Pope worried by global upsurge in anti-Semitism

At a meeting with Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, calls on Jews and Christians to wage united war against hate.

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(photo credit: )
Pope Benedict XVI, meeting with Rome's chief rabbi Monday, expressed pain and worry over fresh outbreaks of anti-Semitism, and called on Jews and Christians to wage a united battle against hate. Waves of anti-Semitic violence and vandalism have hit Europe in the past few years. Last week, worshippers in a Moscow synagogue were attacked by a man with a knife. Benedict did not mention specific occurrences of anti-Semitism in his speech welcoming Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni to an audience at the Vatican. The rabbi led a delegation from Rome's Jewish community, one of the oldest in the world. Benedict said that Jews and Christians have the responsibility to cooperate to promote justice, love and freedom. "In the light of this common mission, we cannot not denounce and combat with decisiveness the hate and incomprehension, the injustices and the violence that continue to sow worry in the soul of men and women of good will," Benedict said. "In this context, how can one not be pained and worried about the fresh outbreaks of anti-Semitism that are occurring?" the pope said. Di Segni said Benedict was welcome to pay a call on Rome's main synagogue, noting the approaching 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's groundbreaking visit there. The visit by the late, Polish-born pope to the synagogue helped repair centuries of poor Vatican-Jewish relations and underlined his determination to use his papacy to improve ties. Benedict became the second pope in history to visit a Jewish house of worship when he went to the synagogue in Cologne, Germany, last summer during his first trip abroad since being elected pontiff in April. The Cologne synagogue visit appeared to help smooth over Israeli-Vatican tensions that were sparked when Israel publicly took Benedict to task for not mentioning attacks on Israelis during a condemnation of terrorism. Di Segni thanked Benedict for "denouncing anti-Semitism, past and present, for condemning fundamentalist terrorism, for his attention to the State of Israel, which, for all the Jewish people is an essential and central reference." The rabbi said he was convinced that under Benedict, the Church's commitment to better relations with Jews would continue.