B’nai B’rith Europe President Daniel Citone was in attendance when Pope Francis spoke at the Great Synagogue of Rome on Jan. 17. Francis is now the third pope to visit the synagogue. The event included speeches by Ruth Dureghello, the president of the Jewish community of Rome, and Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni.
The Pontiff spoke about the Holocaust and strongly urged to “say no to all forms of anti-Semitism, all insults, discrimination and persecution arising thereform.” In October of 1943 the Nazis deported more than 2,000 Jews from Rome. Francis also met with several Italian-Jewish Holocaust survivors and mentioned that his relationships with the Jewish people “are in his heart,” and that previous “enemies and strangers” have now become “friends and brothers.”
B’nai B’rith is gratified that the Catholic-Jewish friendship continues to grow and hold strong. We are pleased that the pope shares a commitment to create “an authentic relationship of friendship.” This visit sends a clear and concise message to the world that the fight to end anti-Semitism cannot stop.