World Jewish Congress leader asks pope to use ‘moral authority’ to help Israeli hostages — By: Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis meets with World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder at the Vatican on Oct. 19, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2023 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday met with the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, with the leader imploring the Holy Father to use his “moral authority” to address the hostage crisis in that conflict.

The WJC said in a press release on its website that WJC President Ronald Lauder during the meeting “appealed to the pope to continue to leverage his moral authority to urge for the safe return of Israeli hostages held in Gaza” following the terrorist organization Hamas’ assault on Israel on Oct. 7.

Pope Francis earlier this month called for the release of the hostages. The Israel Defense Forces said this week that it had notified nearly 200 families about their “abducted loved ones.”

In his meeting with the pope, Lauder urged the pontiff “to use your power, to use your strength, to get these hostages released.”

“You may be the only person who has the moral authority to do this,” Lauder said.” I believe that G-d in his way has brought us here today to ask you to do this, on behalf of all the Jewish people in the world.”

Pope Francis meets with World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder and other leaders at the Vatican on Oct. 19, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

The WJC noted that Lauder’s meeting with the pope coincided with the initiation of the congress’ representative office to the Holy See, “marking the establishment of the first-ever liaison office of a Jewish organization on Vatican property” and “signifying deepening Jewish-Catholic ties.”

Lauder said that for years the World Jewish Congress “has tirelessly pursued a deeper bond between world Jewry and the Catholic Church.”

“Our Vatican office’s inauguration crystallizes the unwavering dedication of both the WJC and the Holy See to mend historical rifts and sculpt a future underscored by unity, particularly as Israel counters devastating assaults,” he added.

During the meeting, Lauder also gifted Pope Francis a “seminal document” titled “Kishreinu.” The WJC said the document “encapsulates the intricate historical and cultural tapestry binding Jewish and Catholic communities around the globe.”

Francis praised the Kishreinu initiative upon its introduction last year. “Our intertwined communities of faith shoulder the sacred duty of weaving a world imbued with brotherhood, challenging inequalities, championing justice, and ensuring peace transcends ethereal realms to root firmly in our shared reality,” he said at the time.

The World Jewish Congress describes itself as “the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments, and international organizations.”

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