Vatican publishes letters to rabbis emphasising Pope’s respect for Judaism

Vatican publishes letters to rabbis emphasising Pope’s respect for Judaism Pope Francis greets Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, during a meeting with international Jewish leaders at the Vatican in 2017. The Vatican has published letters sent to Jewish leaders emphasising that, during his general audience August 11, 2021, the Pope did not devalue the Torah and has deep respect for foundations of Judaism. Photo: CNS.

Pope Francis has not devalued the Torah and does not question the fact that the Torah is crucial for modern Judaism, Cardinal Kurt Koch told two prominent Jewish leaders.

“Pope Francis fully respects the foundations of Judaism and always seeks to deepen the bonds of friendship between the two faith traditions,” wrote the cardinal, who is president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews.

The cardinal’s remarks were in response to concerns and requests for clarification regarding a catechesis the Pope gave during an August 11 general audience talk on St Paul’s teachings regarding the role of Mosaic law for non-Jewish Christians.

The cardinal’s remarks were contained in two letters published on the website of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which the cardinal also heads. The letters, whose main text was the same, were addressed to Rabbi Rasson Arussi, chair of the commission of the chief rabbinate of Israel for the dialogue with the Holy See based in Jerusalem, and to Rabbi David Sandmel, vice chair of the New York-based International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

The two rabbis had both written separately to the cardinal in August, expressing similar concerns that the Pope had seemed to suggest in his audience talk that Jewish law was obsolete.

The cardinal told the two rabbis that he had formulated his response only after consulting September 3 with Pope Francis, “who has instructed me to respond to your letter.”