New York, NY, November 3, 2010 … In an audience at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI today assured top leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that he would continue to raise his voice against anti-Semitism and attempts to isolate the state of Israel.
The Pope was greeted by a leadership delegation in Rome led by Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, and Rabbi Eric Greenberg, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs.
"Thank you for what you do. It is very important what you do," the pontiff told the ADL leaders. "Continue what you do." When asked if he would continue to condemn anti-Semitism, the Pope replied: "I will, you know I will."
Mr. Sugarman expressed condolences over the tragic killing last week of dozens of Catholics, including two priests, in a terrorist attack in a church in Iraq. "We ask that we join together to eliminate all terrorism in the name of religion," Mr. Sugarman said, to which Pope Benedict agreed.
Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who has had numerous previous audiences with Pope Benedict and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, made brief remarks about the growing threats Israel faces as some in the international community seek to isolate the Jewish state.
He asked the pontiff to use the Church's moral authority to help prevent Israel from being made a pariah by its enemies. "Please do not permit the world to isolate Israel," Mr. Foxman said, to which Pope Benedict replied, "I will be there."
The League leaders also raised the issue of recent anti-Jewish statements by Greek-Melkite Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros of Newton, Mass., and will continue to raise the issue with other Vatican officials.
The ADL leaders also met for more than three hours with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is the Moderator for Catholic-Jewish dialogue in the United States on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The meeting was held at the Pontifical North American College, the Rome seminary where Archbishop Dolan served as rector for seven years.
Foxman, Sugarman and Greenberg participated in a wide-ranging discussion with Archbishop Dolan and other church officials about the current challenges and opportunities facing interfaith dialogue in the U.S. and the world.
The delegation of 22 top ADL leaders from the United States is holding high-level meetings in Rome this week after having visited London and Paris. In Italy and Vatican City, the group met with Vatican leaders, Italian senior law enforcement officials and top Italian government officials from various political parties.
Mr. Sugarman presented the pontiff a gift of a tzedakah (charity) box, saying that "one of the traditions we both share is giving charity, which in Hebrew is 'tzedakah.' We are pleased to give you this tzedakah box to commemorate our visit and our respect for you."