Pope Francis met with a delegation of 35 leaders from the American Jewish Committee on Friday in the Vatican, where he denounced antisemitism.
“Your commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue goes back to Nostra Aetate, a milestone in our journey of fraternal reckoning,” he told the delegation, led by AJC president John Shapiro.
Francis communicated “great concern” regarding bigotry against Jews as “an excessive and depraved hatred.”
“I think especially of the outbreak of antisemitic attacks in various countries,” he said. “I stress that for a Christian, any form of antisemitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction.”
“In the fight against hatred and antisemitism an important tool is interreligious dialogue, aimed at promoting a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious and the care of creation,” he added.
The visit occurred just days after Francis announced that the Vatican archive surrounding the Holocaust when Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized for doing little to save Jews and for being silent during the atrocities, led the Catholic Church.
Since becoming pope, Francis has promised to open the records.
Shapiro expressed gratitude to the pope for seeking “historic reconciliation” between Jews and Catholics as exemplified by Monday’s announcement.
“We look forward especially to the involvement of the leading Holocaust memorial institutes in Israel and the U.S. to objectively evaluate as best as possible the historical record of that most terrible of times, to acknowledge both the failures as well as valiant efforts during the period of the Shoah,” he said.