ROME (RNS) The president of the World Jewish Congress on Wednesday (Oct. 28) hailed as a “miracle” a Vatican declaration signed 50 years ago that helped improve Catholic-Jewish relations.
“Relations between Catholics and Jews on many levels are today better than ever before in history,” said Ronald Lauder, World Jewish Congress president. He attributed the breakthrough to the 1965 document known as Nostra Aetate, which he described as a miracle.
Nostra Aetate, or “In Our Time” in English, rejected the notion that the Jewish people should be held responsible for Jesus’ death.
READ: The ‘Splainer: What is Nostra Aetate, and what does it have to do with Catholic-Jewish relations?
Marking the 50th anniversary of the declaration, 150 Jewish leaders gathered in Rome and on Wednesday took part in a papal audience.
Lauder also had a 30-minute private meeting with Pope Francis, during which they discussed anti-Semitism and Israel.
The Vatican angered the Israeli government earlier this year by signing a legal treaty with Palestine, in which the Holy See called for direct negotiations between Palestine and Israel leading to a two-state solution.
But Lauder on Wednesday backed the Vatican standpoint, saying, “There is no question that without a two-state situation there will be no peace.”
The World Jewish Congress leader refused to remark on recent comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed the then-mufti of Jerusalem persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate Jews. “I don’t comment on things that I’m not familiar (with),” Lauder said.
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