Pope responds to Israeli criticism over feedback on Jewish regulation | World information

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has set out to allay Jewish concerns over comments he made on their books of sacred law after Israel’s leading rabbis, the Vatican and Jewish community sources sought clarification, sources shared on Monday with.

Last month, Reuters reported exclusively that Rabbi Rasson Arousi, chairman of the Israeli Rabbinate’s Commission for Dialogue with the Holy See, had written a stern letter to the Vatican saying that Francis’ comments seem to indicate that the Torah, or Jewish law, was out of date.

At a general audience on August 11th, the Pope said: “The law (Torah) does not give life, however.”

“It does not offer the fulfillment of the promise because it is unable to fulfill it … Those who seek life must look to the promise and its fulfillment in Christ.”

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The Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, contains hundreds of commandments that Jews should obey in their daily lives. The level of compliance with the wide range of guidelines differs between Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews.

Arousi sent his letter on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate – the supreme rabbinical authority on Judaism in Israel – to Cardinal Kurt Koch, whose Vatican Department includes a commission on religious relations with Jews.

In the letter, Arousi asked Koch “to convey our need to Pope Francis” and asked the Pope for clarification “to ensure that all derogatory conclusions from this sermon are clearly rejected”.

Francis then asked Koch to explain that his words on the Torah, which reflect the writings of St. Paul in the New Testament, should not be taken as a judgment on Jewish law, the sources said.

Koch sent a letter to Arousi last week with a quote from Pope Francis from 2015: “The Christian denominations find their unity in Christ; Judaism finds its unity in the Torah.”

Jewish sources said they saw the Vatican’s letter as a sign of reconciliation.

For his part, in his last two public appearances, the Pope seemed to do everything possible to clear up what the Vatican considers to be a misunderstanding.

At a general audience on September 1, Francis said his words on the writings of St. Paul were “simply catechesis (teaching of preaching) … and nothing else”.

At his weekly blessing on Sunday, he brought the Jews best wishes for the upcoming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and for the festivals of Yom Kippur and Sukkot that followed.

“May the new year be rich in the fruits of peace and good for those who walk faithfully in the law of the Lord,” he said.

Both Jewish and Vatican sources said the inclusion of the word “law” in normally routine greetings was significant and intentional.

Relations between Catholics and Jews were revolutionized in 1965 when the Second Vatican Council rejected the concept of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus and began decades of interreligious dialogue. Francis and his two predecessors visited synagogues.

Francis has a very good relationship with Jews. While he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he wrote a book with one of the city’s rabbis, Abraham Skorka, and had a lasting friendship with him.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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