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Published On: Thu, Mar 3rd, 2016

Pope Francis to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: ‘pray for me’

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Rabbi Shmuley raised the issue of Israel and the Jewish people.

He presented the Pope with a copy of his book “Kosher Jesus” and told the Pontiff he had written it with three objectives in mind:

The first was to highlight the Jewishness of Jesus.

The second, to educate about the Jewish origins of the Christian faith and how the only religion ever practiced by Jesus was Judaism.

A portrait of Pope Francis taken in Vatican City on August 5, 2014.   Photo credit: Daniele Cataldi/Demotix/Corbis courtesy of Weta.org

A portrait of Pope Francis taken in Vatican City on August 5, 2014. Photo credit: Daniele Cataldi/Demotix/Corbis courtesy of Weta.org

And the third was to create a theological bridge of understanding between Jews and Christians in an era where Christians have emerged as some of Israel’s greatest supporters and defenders.

Rabbi Shmuley then told the Pope that he thanked him for his courage in announcing last year that the Catholic Church would no longer be targeting Jews for conversion, and acknowledged that Jews and people of other faiths can go to heaven.

He implored the Pope to take a further courageous step and protect not just the Jewish soul, but the Jewish body.

“Your Holiness, the Jewish people are under threat around the world, with rising anti-Semitism especially here in Europe, and constant murderous attacks in Israel,” Rabbi Shmuley said. “As the foremost moral voice and spiritual personality in the world, your condemnation of anti-Semitism in unconditional terms and acknowledgement that there is no difference in hating Israel and hating the Jewish people, is vital. Israel is hated simply because it is the Jewish state.

Stating that clearly and unequivocally, Rabbi Shmuley continued, would provide a moral bulwark against the enemies of the Jewish people, especially as forces like BDS attempt to destroy Israel economically and demonize the Jewish nation.

“Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah all profess genocidal intent against Jews and Israel,” Rabbi Shmuley said. He asked the Pope to condemn the incitement in the strongest terms.

The Pope responded to Rabbi Shmuley by asking him to pray for him. Rabbi Shmuley responded that the he and the Jewish people were always praying for the welfare of the Pope, wishing him God’s blessings in achieving this vital and noble aim.

“The Pope is a man of immense warmth and caring and he listened intently to my heartfelt plea to protect my people in an age where irrational hatred of Jews is growing,” said Rabbi Shmuley.  “I will do as he asked and pray that this hatred subsides, with the Pope joining the chorus of those who condemn in absolute terms the vilification of Israel and Jewry.”

Rabbi Shmuley thanked his close friend Gary Krupp of the Pave the Way Foundation for helping to arrange, for the second time, Rabbi Shmuley’s visit to the Vatican for a papal audience. In 2010 he met with Pope Benedict.

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Pope Francis meeting Rabbi Shmuley

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