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November 14, 2019 1:32 pm

Pope Francis’ Denunciation of Rising Antisemitism Shows His ‘Profound Commitment to Jewish People,’ Says Prominent Rabbi

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Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Feb. 27, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Yara Nardi.

A prominent Argentine rabbi praised Pope Francis I for his “profound commitment to the Jewish people” on Thursday, following the pope’s impromptu condemnation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism this week.

“After so many years, I know the pope’s way of thinking and feeling,” Rabbi Abraham Skorka — a close friend and long-time collaborator of the pope’s —  told the Vatican News on Thursday. “He says what comes from the depths of his heart.”

Departing from prepared remarks, the pope expressed deep anxiety about a resurgence of antisemitism during his weekly Papal Audience at the Vatican in Rome on Wednesday.

Explaining that he wanted to make a “separate note” on the issue of Jew-hatred, Pope Francis delivered a thunderous denunciation of antisemitism.

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“The Jewish people have suffered so much in history, they have been chased away, they too have been persecuted,” he said. “In the last century we saw so many brutalities against the Jewish people, and we were all convinced that this was over. But today the habit of persecuting the Jews, brothers and sisters, is here reborn. This is neither human nor Christian.”

He continued: “The Jews are our brothers and should not be persecuted, understand?”

Rabbi Skorka — who jointly published in book form a series of interfaith dialogues that he and Francis held during the pope’s prior role, as Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires —  said that the pope’s words “aroused in me great emotions and a sense of gratitude, thinking also of the long history of misunderstandings between the Church and the Jews.”

While Pope Francis did not mention a specific incident, many Italians have been shocked by the news last week that an 89-year-old Auschwitz survivor required police protection because of death threats from far-right extremists.

Liliana Segre — a life senator in the Italian parliament — had called on fellow legislators to establish a committee to combat racist and antisemitic hatred, resulting in a barrage of antisemitic abuse and threats to her safety.

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