The Pope and the Chief Rabbi

Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth, met with Pope Benedict last week to discuss interfaith relations and their common concern for the decline of spiritual values within European culture, reports Vatican Radio.

Rabbi Sacks, who has been spiritual leader of the mainstream Orthodox Jewish communities in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong since 1991, said faith, in the modern world, has no political power but it does have a great deal of influence - especially among those who question the kind of value system they want for their children

Asked about a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe, the Rabbi stressed that Jews cannot fight anti-semitism alone, "the victim cannot cure the crime, the hated cannot cure the hate." He said he will fight for the right of Christians anywhere in the world to live their faith without fear, "but I need them to fight for the right of my people to live their faith without fear."

Asked if the current political stalemate in between Israelis and Palestinians could be behind this resurgent anti-Semitism, Sacks said "we must not allow ourselves to import a message of conflict from the Middle East to Europe.

Vatican Radio interviewed the Rabbi about his talk with the Pope. 

This was your 2nd meeting after you welcomed him to the interfaith meeting in Twickenham last September?

I had been asked to welcome him on behalf of the non-Christian faiths in Britain and it was actually a very moving encounter, I think we felt that something had happened at the moment and it was, you know, a sharing of faith across the boundaries and it was very moving. The Pope at the time told me he wanted to deepen that relationship so I felt this visit was a way of moving that a step further.

What can you tell us about your meeting this morning?

We are very concerned obviously with the soul of Europe, I mean Europe was built on Judeo-Christian foundations, even the market was built on Judeo-Christian foundations, and scholars are fascinated as to how it was that China that had been way in advance of the West until the fifteenth century, invented things long before the West did, failed to develop a market economy or a democratic society or an industrial revolution.

And most scholars take the view that the difference between the West and China was that Judeo-Christian heritage.

FULL STORY The Pope and the Rabbi: deepening the relationship (Vatican Radio)

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