Friday 12 October 2007

Pope Benedict XVI criticises Iranian leader

Ruth Gledhill in the Times reports that Pope Benedict XVI pledged to help fight resurgent anti-semitism in Europe. The Pontiff also criticised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who questions the Holocaust and wants Israel wiped off the map:

“The Pope hit out at Iran as he pledged to help world Jewish leaders in their fight against anti-Semitism.

Pope Benedict XVI told leaders of the World Jewish Congress that Iran was “an issue of big concern” to him.

At a meeting at the Vatican, the Pope spoke of his concern about rising anti-Semitism and described how he wanted to use educational tools to counter the hatred of the Iranian leadership towards the Jewish people and Israel.

Maram Stern, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, said after the audience: “We thanked the Holy Father for everything he did for the Jewish people, and more importantly what he will do.”

Speaking to journalists in Rome, he said the Pope had “recognised the question of Iran as an issue of big concern for him.”

Members of the congress discussed the critical problem of “resurgent anti-Semitism” in Europe. Britain itself has seen a marked rise in anti-Semitism, linked to increasing anti-Zionism and to events in the Middle East.

In a statement after the audience, the congress said members of the delegation “called on the Pontiff to take action against those in the Church who wanted to do damage to the close and positive relationship between Christians and Jews”."

This trend is also confirmed by Gérard Israël, who heads the Commission for Catholic-Jewish relations in France. In an interview, he stated: “I have no hesitation in saying that today the Catholic Church is Israel’s best friend, and almost an ally.”

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