Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis will meet Pope Francis for a private audience in the Vatican this week. The head of the United Hebrew Congregation will be accompanied by Cardinal Vincent Nichols for the meeting, which is expected to cover issues including Jewish-Catholic relations and the role of faith in the public sphere.
The meeting marks the first of its kind between Pope Francis and the Chief Rabbi as they seek to consolidate the collaboration developed during the time of Jonathan Sacks and Benedict XVI.
The first meeting between the pair comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate document, a watershed in Vatican relations with other faiths. The document insisted that the Jewish community cannot be held responsible for the death of Christ and that Jews should not be seen as having been rejected by God.
The signing of the document by Pope Paul VI in 1965 marked the beginning of a new era in co-operation between the two faiths which has seen the Pope and the Jewish leaders regularly engaging in discourse in attempts to tackle the problems which modernity poses to the two faiths.
The Chief Rabbi said: “Today we face challenges that could not have been accounted for by Nostra Aetate fifty years ago, such as the widespread secularisation of our society and the dramatic increase in prejudice against minority faith communities.”
He stressed the importance of solidarity between the Jewish and Catholic faiths in tackling these issues, adding: “We treasure the spirit of collaboration between our faiths and I look forward to discussing these and other pressing issues with Pope Francis.”
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