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Pope tells Jews in Israel his “heart is torn” at sight of war

Pope Francis leads a mass at St Peter’s basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 02/05/24

“I want you to know that you are close to my heart and to the heart of the Church,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter addressed to Jews in Israel.
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“My heart is torn at the sight of what is happening in the Holy Land, by the power of so much division and so much hatred.” This is what Pope Francis wrote in a letter addressed to the Jews in Israel that was published by the Holy See on February 3, 2024.

In the text, the Pope condemned “every form of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism” created by the conflict, and called for an end to “war and hatred,” reiterating his solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians alike. 

“Since October 7 [the Holy Land] has been cast into a spiral of unprecedented violence,” Pope Francis wrote, referring to the day on which Hamas attacked Israel in 2023. “The whole world looks on at what is happening in that land with apprehension and pain.” 

The Pope sent the two-page letter to theologian Karma Ben Johanan, who recently promoted an appeal to the Pontiff, signed by around 400 rabbis and academics, to strengthen Jewish-Christian friendship in light of the war.

In response to this appeal, the Pope addressed this letter to “his” “Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel,” at this “moment of great travail” when “wars and divisions are increasing all over the world.”

No to anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism

“Together with you, we, Catholics, are very concerned about the terrible increase in attacks against Jews around the world,” the Pope wrote. “The path that the Church has walked with you, the ancient people of the covenant, rejects every form of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, unequivocally condemning manifestations of hatred towards Jews and Judaism as a sin against God.”

“We had hoped that ‘never again’ would be a refrain heard by the new generations, yet now we see that the path ahead requires ever closer collaboration to eradicate these phenomena,” he emphasized.

“I want you to know that you are close to my heart and to the heart of the Church,” the Pope said, assuring of his “affection.”

“I embrace each of you, and especially those who are consumed by anguish, pain, fear and even anger.”

“Words are so difficult to formulate in the face of a tragedy like the one that has occurred in recent months,” the Pope acknowledged. “Together with you, we mourn the dead, the wounded, the traumatized, begging God the Father to intervene and put an end to war and hatred, to these incessant cycles that endanger the entire world.” 

Never lose hope for peace

He once again called for the release of the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip and asked for his readers to not lose their hope for peace.

“We must never lose hope for a possible peace and that we must do everything possible to promote it, rejecting every form of defeatism and mistrust,” he wrote. “We must look to God, the only source of certain hope.”

Pope Francis expressed his hope that Jews and Catholics will be able to embark on a “path of friendship, solidarity and cooperation” in order to “open new horizons of light for everyone, Israelis and Palestinians,” and “repair a destroyed world” starting from the Holy Land. 

Tags:
Holy LandIsraelJudaismPope FrancisWar
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