Pope meets with Jewish delegation from Latin America

Pope Benedict reaffirmed the values embodied in 'Nostra Aetate', while noting that the world is increasingly challenged by intolerance.

Pope Benedict XVI welcomed a delegation from the Latin American Jewish Congress, "the first group representing Jewish organisations and communities in Latin America which I have met here in the Vatican". On May 9, he went on to recall that "dynamic Jewish communities exist throughout Latin America, especially in Argentina and Brazil, living alongside a large Catholic majority. Beginning with the years of Vatican Council II relations between Jews and Catholics have become stronger, also in your own region, and various initiatives are afoot to make our mutual friendship deeper".

The pontiff reaffirmed that the Vatican Council II Declaration "Nostra aetate" continues "to be the basis and the guide for our efforts towards promoting greater understanding, respect and cooperation between our communities. The Declaration not only took up a clear position against all forms anti-Semitism, but also laid the foundations for a new theological evaluation of the Church’s relationship with Judaism, expressing the confidence that an appreciation of the spiritual heritage that Jews and Christians share will lead to increasing understanding and esteem".

"In considering the progress made in the last fifty years of Jewish-Catholic relations throughout the world, we cannot but give thanks to the Almighty for this evident sign of His goodness and providence. Thanks to the increase of trust, respect and goodwill, groups whose relations were originally characterized by a certain lack of trust, have little by little become faithful partners and friends, even good friends, capable of facing crises together and overcoming conflicts in a positive manner. Of course there is still a great deal to be done to shake off the burdens of the past, to foment better relations between our communities and to respond to the increasing challenges believers have to face in the modern world. Nonetheless, the fact that we are jointly committed to a path of dialog, reconciliation and cooperation is a reason for thanksgiving".

"In a world increasingly threatened by the loss of spiritual and moral values - the values that can guarantee respect for human dignity and lasting peace - sincere and respectful dialog among religions and cultures is crucial for the future of our human family. I hope that your visit today will be a source of encouragement and renewed trust when we come to face the challenge of forming stronger ties of friendship and collaboration, and of bearing prophetic witness to the power of God's truth, justice and love, for the good of all humanity", the pope concluded.

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