“The spread of anti-Semitic demonstrations, which I strongly condemn, is […] of great concern,” Pope Francis wrote to a delegation from the Conference of European Rabbis, which he met at the Vatican on November 6, 2023. The speech that the Pontiff had prepared was handed out to the participants, rather than read aloud, as he said he was not feeling well.
“My first thought and prayer goes, above all else, to everything that has happened in the last few weeks,” the Pope wrote in his speech without directly mentioning Israel or Palestine. “Yet again violence and war have erupted in that Land blessed by the Most High, which seems continually assailed by the vileness of hatred and the deadly clash of weapons.”
At the beginning of the meeting the soon-to-be 87-year-old Pontiff told his audience that he preferred to hand out his speech as he was “not feeling well.” The prepared text was published by the Holy See Press Office, which further explained that Pope Francis had “a bit of a cold” and had wanted to “greet the European Rabbis individually.”
Founded in 1956, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) is an Orthodox rabbinical alliance that brings together more than 700 religious leaders from Europe’s main synagogue communities, according to its website.