Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international congress promoted by the International Council of Christians and Jews, held in Rome from 28 June to 1 July on the theme “The fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate: the past, present and future of relations between Jews and Christians”.
The Pope expressed his pleasure that this year's meeting is taking place in Rome, the city where the Apostles Peter and Paul are buried – “for all Christians, both Apostles are an important point of reference: they are like 'pillars' of the Church” – and the home of the most ancient Jewish community in Western Europe, whose origins can be traced to the time of the Maccabees. “Christians and Jews therefore have lived together in Rome for almost two thousand years, even though their relations in the course of history have not been without difficulty”.
The development of authentic fraternal dialogue has been made possible since Vatican Council II, following the promulgation of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, “a document which represents a definitive 'yes' to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable 'no' to anti-Semitism”. He continued, “In celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we are able to see the rich fruits which it has brought about and to gratefully appraise Jewish-Catholic dialogue. In this way, we can express our thanks to God for all the good which has been realised in terms of friendship and mutual understanding these past fifty years, as his Holy Spirit has accompanied our efforts in dialogue. Our fragmented humanity, mistrust and pride have been overcome thanks to the Spirit of Almighty God, in such a way that trust and fraternity between us have continued to grow. We are strangers no more, but friends, and brothers and sisters. Even with our different perspectives, we confess one God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of history. And he, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, always blesses our commitment to dialogue”.
“Christians, all Christians, have Jewish roots”, emphasised the Pope. “Because of this, since its inception, the International Council of Christians and Jews has welcomed the various Christian confessions. Each of them, in its own way, has drawn near to Judaism, which in its time, has been distinguished by diverse trends and sensibilities. The Christian confessions find their unity in Christ; Judaism finds its unity in the Torah. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh in the world; for Jews the Word of God is present above all in the Torah. Both faith traditions find their foundation in the One God, the God of the Covenant, who reveals himself through his Word. In seeking a right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ as the fount of new life, and Jews to the teaching of the Torah. This pattern of theological reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity arises precisely from Nostra Aetate, and upon this solid basis can be developed yet further”.