Argentina’s Sephardi chief rabbi meets with Pope Francis in Vatican City

Isaac Sacca: Dialogue, understanding and respect between cultures and religions is the way to transit to achieve world peace.

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August 27, 2019 18:13
2 minute read.
Pope Francis holds weekly general audience at the Vatican, May 15, 2019.

Pope Francis holds weekly general audience at the Vatican, May 15, 2019.. (photo credit: REUTERS/YARA NARDI)

Argentina’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Isaac Sacca met with Pope Francis on Monday in the Vatican City to discuss opening more spaces for interreligious and cultural dialogue.

Sacca was leading an international delegation from Spain and the United States, who are working toward dialogue and coexistence between religions.

Sacca said in a Facebook post that during the meeting, the two leaders agreed that “dialogue, understanding and respect between cultures and religions is the way to transit to achieve world peace.”

World Jewish Youth Organization Menora released a statement regarding the meeting hosted by the pope, who works on searching for permanent bridges that unite and encourage understanding and respect.

“The members of the Jewish Hispanic Foundation of Spain participated as well,” Menora said, “The Foundation focuses on promoting knowledge of Jewish culture and its meeting points with Hispanic culture, facilitating intercultural dialogue and promoting social awareness against antisemitism, xenophobia and racism, as well as against religious, racial or racial intolerance of any type.”

Sacca described Pope Francis “as a friend and an inspirer, a person who has the ability to abstract from the mundane and at the same time engages without fear in society, teaches and guides.”

Prior to the visit, Sacca highlighted “the important work that is being done by Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina to promote coexistence and harmony.”

Attendees had the opportunity to speak freely with Pope Francis and “expressed the wonderful friendship between the pontiff and the Argentine rabbi, an image that moved both Catholics and the Jews present,” Menora said.

During the meeting, Jewish leaders from the United States, including Meir Soloveichik, the rabbi of the Portuguese Hispanic community of New York, placed special emphasis on “the need to awaken people to act for the common good from a religious perspective of each creed, and to accept the differences and ideas of others,” Menora said. The organization said that environmental sustainability issues were also discussed, as it is an important issue for the pope.

The close friendship between the pope and Sacca goes back several years.

In 2013, Sacca and Pope Francis met, as Sacca asked him to continue praying for Argentina. He gave the pope a silver kiddush cup and a picture of the pope’s last visit to the Buenos Aires synagogue.

In 2016, on the pope’s 80th birthday, the two met for an hour and discussed similar issues to those spoken about on Monday. As a gift, Sacca gave the pope a replica of Birkat HaKohanim (Blessing of Priests) from the oldest Bible found, as well as a kosher cake with the words, “H.H. Pope Francis, Happy Birthday.”


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