Pope: Judaism Is the 'Holy Root' of Christianity

Image: Pope: Judaism Is the 'Holy Root' of Christianity

Friday, 13 Sep 2013 02:55 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Pope Francis has praised Jews for keeping their faith despite the Holocaust and other “terrible trials” throughout history, and reaffirmed Judaism as the “holy root” of Christianity.
 
Francis made the statements in an unprecedented open letter to Eugenio Scalfari, a prominent Italian atheist and founding editor of the liberal newspaper La Repubblica.

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The letter, published on the front page of La Repubblica on Wednesday, came in response to editorials written by Scalfari that had directly addressed the pontiff on issues of faith and religion, the Times of Israel reported.
 
Francis’ reply affirmed the necessity of an open dialogue with nonbelievers that he called “right and proper and precious.”
 
He also responded to Scalfari’s query about “what we should say to our Jewish brothers about the promise made to them by God: Has it all come to nothing?”
 
Francis called this “a question that challenges us radically as Christians,” adding that with the help of God, “we have rediscovered that the Jewish people are still for us the holy root from which Jesus germinated.”
 
The Pope said that, particularly through his close ties with Jews in his native Argentina, he had often, in prayer, “also questioned God, especially when my mind went to the memory of the terrible experience of the Shoah [Holocaust].”
 
He added that: “What I can say to you, with the Apostle Paul, is that God’s fidelity to the close covenant with Israel never failed and that, through the terrible trials of these centuries, the Jews have kept their faith in God. And for this, we shall never be sufficiently grateful to them.”

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By doing so, Francis noted, Jews served as an example for Christians. “Precisely by persevering in the faith of the God of the Covenant,” he said, they “called all, also us Christians, to the fact that we are always waiting, as pilgrims, for the Lord’s return.”
 
Francis has repeatedly emphasized that “a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite,” and that to be a good Christian, “it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions.”

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