Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, Pope Francis told a Portuguese journalist last week,
Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, Pope Francis told a Portuguese journalist last week, clarifying comments made last month following his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Following the signing of a bilateral agreement between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority at the Vatican last month, the pope was cited as having told Mr. Abbas that the Palestinian leader was an “angel of peace”. The remarks prompted controversy with commentators noting the Mr. Abbas’ support for terrorism.
Vatican press officers first stated the pope’s remarks had been misconstrued, noting he had said he hoped that someday Mr. Abbas might become “a bit an angel of peace.”
On 28 May 2015 Portuguese journalist Henrique Cymerman reported that Francis had further clarified his remarks about Mr. Abbas, regretting the confusion his remarks had caused.
Mr. Cymerman reported that the pope told him, and Buenos Aires Rabbi Abraham Skorka, “anyone who does not recognize the Jewish people and the State of Israel — and their right to exist — is guilty of anti-Semitism.”
Jewish leaders have applauded the pope’s equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. In a letter to the Pope, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman, and Director of Interfaith Affairs Rabbi David Sandmel said his words “send an unequivocal message to those who reject the legitimacy of the state of Israel as well as to those who question or distort the Holy See’s stand on the issue.”
“Not only has Pope Francis placed a tremendous importance on Catholic-Jewish relations throughout his life, he has also always understood and respected the religious significance of Israel to the Jewish people,” Mr. Foxman and Rabbi Sandmel said. “His comments remind us that the Church, the Jewish people and the state of Israel share an unshakable friendship.”