A delegation of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) led by its president, Ronald S. Lauder, was received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday evening.
In his address, the pope spoke about the challenge to promote peace in the world and about the refugee crisis.
Francis said: “Europe often forgets that it has been enriched by migrants. Europe is closing itself up. Europe is lacking creativity. Europe has a falling birth rate, and problems of high unemployment.”
The pope added: “We need to reflect on integration, which is important. The people who committed the terrorist attacks in Belgium were not properly integrated.”
He also reiterated what he had told Lauder at a previous meeting, that a good Christian could not be an anti-Semite.
The Catholic pontiff said it was important that Christians and Jews speak out against brutality in the world. “We should go on a joint journey together to make the world more secure,” the pope told the Jewish leaders, which included the heads of big Jewish communities in Europe and the Americas.
Ahead of the Rosh Hashana holiday, Pope Francis wished the Jewish world a sweet new year.
The pope said: “We need more friendliness and kindness, and we should not be afraid to speak out against brutality. We should go on a joint journey together to make the world more secure. We need to speak out for peace.”
Lauder: 'We Jews have all been immigrants'
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder told the Catholic pontiff: “We Jews have all been immigrants. We understand the situation the immigrants find themselves in.” He echoed the pope’s words for peace: “We pray for peace. We need to live in peace.”
The delegation praised Francis for his recent visit to Auschwitz, where he had chosen to remain silent.
Photos: Francesco Sforza/Vatican