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Pope, B’nai B’rith leaders discuss human dignity, State of Israel

Catholic World News - May 13, 2011

Pope Benedict met with a delegation from B’nai B’rith International on May 12 and urged Christians and Jews to bear common witness to dignity the human person.

Thanking the organization’s leadership for taking part in Jewish-Catholic dialogue, the Pontiff said that “one of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image (cf. Gen 1:26-27) and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being.”

Noting “the need to promote a sound understanding of the role of religion in the life of our present-day societies as a corrective to a purely horizontal, and consequently truncated, vision of the human person and social coexistence,” Pope Benedict added that “the life and work of all believers should bear constant witness to the transcendent, point to the invisible realities which lie beyond us, and embody the conviction that a loving, compassionate Providence guides the final outcome of history, no matter how difficult and threatening the journey along the way may sometimes appear.”

B’nai B’rith International Interim President Allan Jacobs “thanked the Pontiff for his important past statements on Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense,” according to a statement from the organization. “Jacobs also asked the Pope to make clear that the acute scrutiny of Israel at last year’s Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops did not reflect the Church’s approach to the Jewish state and that the Church will powerfully encourage only fairness and care in addressing the region’s complexities, while opposing narratives and measures that single out Israel or Israelis for targeting.”

“It’s a great honor to engage directly, and substantively, with Pope Benedict XVI,” said Daniel Mariaschin, the organization’s executive vice president. “Discussing points of agreement, as well as issues of concern, affords a vital opportunity for understanding between two faith communities of unique importance to each other.”

Among the issues addressed with Vatican officials were “the Good Friday prayer ‘for the conversion of the Jews’ in the Latin-language Tridentine Mass, and the still-unopened Vatican archives from the Holocaust period.” At the same time, the delegation “praised positive steps by the Church,” including the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

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