Pope Francis condemned anti-Semitism during a meeting with representatives of the international Jewish community at the Vatican.

“Because of our commons roots, a true Christian cannot be anti-Semitic,” Francis said Monday at a meeting with a delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, or IJCIC.

He added that the Catholic Church “firmly condemns hatred, persecution and all manifestations of anti-Semitism.

The Pope took his first audience with members of the Jewish community at the Vatican on Monday.

The meeting was between the Catholic Bishop of Rome and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, the Vatican's historical Jewish partner in dialogue.

The president of the IJCIC and Francis both read out statements at the meeting. Afterward, the Pope spoke individually to each member of the crowd of roughly two-dozen Jewish leaders.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said that Francis stood out, for the group, "as a Pope for whom the Jewish community is not merely an idea but a people who he knows well."

"Part of what was interesting to me was that he knows many of my colleagues from his time in Buenos Aires," said Schonfeld. "The relationship has the feeling of holding great potential."

An American Jewish Committee delegation included David Inlander of Chicago, Chair of AJC’s Interreligious Affairs Commission, Rabbi Noam Marans of New York, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, and Lisa Palmieri-Billig, AJC Representative in Italy and Liaison to the Holy See.

"Pope Francis is a very good friend of the Jewish People and we rejoice in the fact that he will continue to advance the path of his predecessors in deepening the Catholic-Jewish relationship even further,” said Rabbi David Rosen, Director of International Interreligious Affairs at AJC, who took part in the audience.

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