Pope Francis meets ADL delegation, condemns anti-Semitism
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Pope Francis meets ADL delegation, condemns anti-Semitism

Vatican says anti-Jewish sentiment is widespread today but is 'completely contrary to Christian principles'

Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he delivers his 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images via JTA)
Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he delivers his 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images via JTA)

Pope Francis on Thursday denounced “widespread” anti-Semitism during a meeting with a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League.

Francis met with the group at the Vatican, according to a report from Vatican Radio.

“Sadly, anti-Semitism, which I again denounce in all its forms as completely contrary to Christian principles and every vision worthy of the human person, is still widespread today,” Francis said, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the Vatican.

The pontiff also reiterated a statement released on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the landmark declaration on Catholic-Jewish relations from 1965, that the church “feels particularly obliged to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies.”

In a series of tweets, ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said the encounter was both meaningful and powerful.

The pope recalled his visit last year to Auschwitz, saying, “There are no adequate words or thoughts in the face of such horrors of cruelty and sin; there is prayer, that God may have mercy and that such tragedies may never happen again.”

Francis visited the former Nazi death camp during a four-day July 2016 trip to Poland to mark the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day. He chose not to make a speech or public statement there, but rather spent his visit in silent prayer.

He said after the visit that he felt the souls of those murdered there.

“The great silence of the visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was more eloquent than any word spoken could have been,” he said days later, during his weekly public audience at the Vatican.

Pope Francis leaves through the entrance of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland, on July 29, 2016. (AFP/Janek Skarzynski)
Pope Francis leaves through the entrance of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland, on July 29, 2016. (AFP/Janek Skarzynski)

“In that silence I listened: I felt the presence of all the souls who passed through that place; I felt the compassion, the mercy of God, which a few holy souls were able to bring even into that abyss,” he said. “In that great silence, I prayed for all the victims of violence and war: and there, in that place, I realized more than ever how precious is memory, not only as a record of past events, but as a warning, and a responsibility for today and tomorrow, that the seed of hatred and violence not be allowed to take root in the furrows of history.”

Visiting Auschwitz, the pope said, made him pray to resolve the evils of today’s world.

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