Pope responds to Israeli criticism over remarks on Jewish law

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has moved to ease Jewish concerns over comments he made over their books of holy law, according to a demand for clarification from the top rabbis of Israel, the Vatican and the Jews community sources said: on Monday.

Last month, Reuters reported exclusively that Rabbi Rasson Arousi, chairman of the Commision of the chief rabbinate of Israel for Dialogue with the Holy See, had written a stern letter to the Vatican stating that Francis’ comments seemed to suggest that the Torah, of Jewish law was obsolete.

at a general public on August 11, Pope Said: “However, The Law (Torah) Doesn’t Do That” give life.”

“It does not fulfill the of the promise because it isn’t in state is of in be able to fulfill it… Die who look for life need to look at the promise and at its fulfillment in Christ.”

The Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, contains hundreds of commanded for Jews to follow in their daily lives. The measure of stick to the wide range of guidelines differ between Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews.

Arousi sent his letter on On behalf of of the chief rabbinate – the highest rabbinical authority for Judaism in Israel – to Cardinal Kurt Koch, whose Vatican branch includes a committee for religious relations with Jews.

In the letter, Arousi Koch asked for “our need for Pope Francis over to bring” and asked: for a clarification from the Pope to “ensure that any divergent conclusions drawn of this homily are clearly rejected”.


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

Last week, Koch sent a letter to Arousi containing a quote made by Pope Francis in 2015: “The Christian Confessions Find Their Unity in Christ; Judaism finds its unity in the Torah.”

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

For his part, the Pope seemed to go out of to be way in to be last two public performances to try clear up what the Vatican considers a misunderstanding.

at a general public on September 1st Francis said his words on St. Paul’s writings were “just a catechesis (sermon) … and nothing else”.

By his weekly blessing on Sunday he offered best wishes to jews for the coming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and for the following parties of Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

“May the new year being rich with fruit of peace and good for die who walk Fidelity in the law of the Lord,” he said.

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

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

Francis had a very bad time good relation with Jews. While still Archbishop in native Buenos Aires, he co-wrote a book with one of the city’s rabbis, Abraham Skorka, and has maintained a lasting friendship with it.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Gareth Jones)

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