Pope Francis has condemned antisemitism as a “sin against God” and expressed heartbreak after noticing a “terrible” rise in Jew hatred around the world.
In a letter addressed to “my Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel”, dated February 2 and made public on Saturday, the pontiff wrote: “The path that the Church has walked with you, the ancient people of the covenant, rejects every form of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, unequivocally condemning manifestations of hatred towards Jews and Judaism as a sin against God.”
He added, “Together with you, we, Catholics, are very concerned about the terrible increase in attacks against Jews around the world. We had hoped that ‘Never Again’ would be a refrain heard by the new generations.”
The 87-year-old head of the Vatican added that his “heart is torn at the sight of what is happening in the Holy Land, by the power of so much division and so much hatred… the whole world looks on at what is happening in that land with apprehension and pain.”
He expressed concern that the war between Israel and the terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip could spread to wider conflict, and called for a “ceasefire on every front, including Lebanon.”
The pope condemned the Hamas attack on October 7 as an “atrocious” act of “terrorism and extremism” and renewed his call for the immediate release of hostages.
He also noted that for people who have “great difficulty seeing a future horizon where light replaces darkness, in which friendship replaces hatred, in which cooperation replaces war”, the current relationship between Catholics and Jews after centuries of mistrust and hostility shows it is possible.