Chief Rabbi and Pope discuss 'profound challenge' of migrant crisis at Vatican meeting


Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis discussed the refugee crisis with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican today.

Rabbi Mirvis told the head of the Catholic Church: “"The image that has been seen across the world in the last 24 hours of a young child, washed up on a Turkish beach, demonstrates how urgent and profound our challenges are. We are partners in confronting them."

Pope Francis acknowledged the gravity of the crisis. He said: "This is a world that we share together and we must care for it together."

Rabbi Mirvis was accompanied by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. The three men also discussed “the aggressive secularisation” of the world, peace in the Middle East and the persecution of religious minorities.

The audience, Rabbi Mirvis’s first with the Pope, took place at the Apostolic Palace ahead of the 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the 1965 Declaration on the Catholic Church's relationship with non-Christian religions.

Rabbi Mirvis thanked Pope Francis for his leadership in addressing contemporary issues, and presented the pontiff with a traditional silver apple and honey dish for Rosh Hashanah, telling him: "Whereas the apple is perishable, the honey will always keep. May that combination of the 'timeless' and the 'timely' be a blessing for us all."

Rabbi Mirvis was also accompanied by his Valerie, who presented the Pope with a gift of home-made florentines.

Later, the Chief Rabbi and Cardinal Nichols took part in a wider programme exploring how the transformation in relations heralded by Nostra Aetate could be translated into further Catholic-Jewish understanding.

Meetings took place at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity responsible for relations with the Jews, a reception hosted at the Residence of British Ambassador Nigel Baker, a visit to the Cardinal Bae Centre for Judaic Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and an appearance on Vatican Radio.

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