In meeting with Pope Francis, B’nai B’rith calls for expansion of the Abraham Accords

“From his years as Cardinal in Buenos Aires, through today, Pope Francis has expressed a special interest in furthering Jewish-Catholic relations,” said B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel Mariaschin.

 Pope Francis meeting with B'nai Brith heads.  (photo credit: B'NAI B'RITH INTERNATIONAL)
Pope Francis meeting with B'nai Brith heads.
(photo credit: B'NAI B'RITH INTERNATIONAL)

WASHINGTON – A B’nai B’rith International leadership delegation met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Tuesday. B’nai B’rith President Seth Riklin and CEO Daniel Mariaschin, led the multinational delegation in an effort to “build upon strides in Catholic-Jewish relations and further advance peace and partnership in the Middle East.”

“From his years as Cardinal in Buenos Aires, through today, Pope Francis has expressed a special interest in furthering Jewish-Catholic relations,” Mariaschin said. “Our audience with him gave us an opportunity to demonstrate our appreciation for this, to confirm our shared aspirations for peace and mutual respect, as well as to raise issues of current concern in our community.”

The delegation also met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, with other officials and diplomats, and with the leadership of the Italian Jewish community. According to B’nai B’rith, Pope Francis urged “remembrance of the Shoah.”

Even before I became Pope, the promotion and deepening of Jewish-Catholic dialogue was something close to my heart.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis leads a prayer for peace from Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, Italy May 31, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/YARA NARDI)Pope Francis leads a prayer for peace from Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, Italy May 31, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/YARA NARDI)

In formal remarks, Riklin urged active support for the expansion of the Abraham Accords. “The signatories to those Accords have made the principled choice of peace and mutual acceptance with Israel, resulting in wide-ranging cooperation and engagement between their peoples,” he said. “There has been a growing realization that the political strategies of the past have failed to solve the problems facing the Middle East. Through this realization, the people of these countries, Muslims and Jews together, have found the core values that they share, that they are indeed ‘cousins,’ and, as a result, we are now beginning to see how much our familial faiths can achieve together.”

“All of us should support this reconciliation and encourage its expansion for the sake of all people,” Riklin added. “Sadly, it cannot be denied that some malevolent forces are determined to create and widen divisions amongst peoples through all forms of bigotry and hate, using incitement to cause violence and conflict. Despite the very small size of the Jewish people, antisemitism remains one of the most virulent hatreds, online and in real life. 

Despite the very small size of Israel, the citizens of the Middle East’s only pluralistic democracy continue to be demonized, delegitimized and subjected to violent terror attacks.

B’nai B’rith President Seth Riklin

Speaking about the Iranian threat, Riklin said that Iran’s government “continues to openly pledge the very annihilation of Israel and to fund proxies’ continued threats to and attacks upon Israel.”

“Despite this effort, Israel continues to undertake great sacrifices and risks for peace, and even maintains Muslim administration of Judaism’s single holiest place in Jerusalem,” he continued. “Yet, at the United Nations, Israel has been condemned more than all other countries combined, a means to distract from other countries’ human rights violations.”