The State of Israel 'Has Every Right' to Exist and Prosper, Says Pope

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience at St Peter's Square at the Vatican May 22, 2013. ((Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile))

Outright attacks on Israel are a form of anti-Semitism, according to the Pope.

After a private audience at the Vatican with Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, Pope Francis told more than 150 Jewish leaders in the delegation from the congress: "To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism. There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity."

The visit coincided with the anniversary of the Nostra Aetate, the 1965 Catholic declaration of the Second Vatican Council that condemned anti-Semitism and helped bring about a dramatic transformation in relations between the two faiths.

Mr Lauder said afterwards: "Pope Francis does not simply make declarations. He inspires people with his warmth and his compassion. His clear and unequivocal support for the Jewish people is critical to us."

The 150 delegates and observers from the World Jewish Congress Governing Board took part in the public audience with the Pope in St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Pope Francis said: "Indifference and opposition were transformed into cooperation and benevolence. Enemies and strangers have become friends and brothers. The council, with the declaration Nostra Aetate, paved the way. It said yes to the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity, and no to any form of anti-Semitism and condemnation of any insult, discrimination and persecution derived from that."

The World Jewish Congress supports a two-state solution and has called for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume peace talks without preconditions as soon as possible.

This article was originally published by Christian Today. 

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