RABBI PRAISES POPE
Rome’s chief rabbi welcomes Pope’s praise for Jewish fidelity
Catholic News Service (CWN) September 16, 2013
The chief rabbi of Rome has called attention to a statement by Pope Francis on the role of the Jewish people, saying that the Pontiff has given new vigor to relations between Christians and Jews.
Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni said that in a letter to a non-believer, published in the Italian daily La Repubblica, Pope Francis did not depart from previous Church teachings about Judaism, but “it is the force with which he expresses them and his capacity of communicating them that is astounding.”
In his open letter to journalist Eugenio Scalfari, the Pontiff had said that despite extraordinary suffering over the centuries, the Jewish people have kept their covenant. “For this, we will never be sufficiently grateful to them as a Church, but also as human beings,” he wrote. Of the Jewish people who have retained the faith, the Pope said:
In the persistence of their faith in the God of the Covenant, they summon all, including us as Christians, to recall the fact that we are awaiting the return of the Lord as pilgrims, and must therefore always remain open to Him and never retreat from what we have already achieved.
In his own letter to La Repubblica, Rabbi Di Segni remarked that the Pope’s words are similar to statements made by Pope Benedict XVI, and contrast with thoughts expressed by some Protestants—who, he said, “belittle” the Jewish role in salvation history. “Especially noteworthy,” he said, “is [the Pope’s] expression of gratitude to Jews for their devotion in faith.”