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Pope Francis meets European rabbis, denounces antisemitism

The 86-year-old pontiff declined to read a prepared speech due to a slight cold.

Pope Francis. Photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr via Wikimedia Commons.
Pope Francis. Photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr via Wikimedia Commons.

In a meeting with European rabbis on Monday, Pope Francis condemned antisemitism, war and terrorism in a speech which, citing poor health, he didn’t read out.

“I’m not feeling well, and so I prefer not to read the speech but give it to you, so you can take it with you,” Francis told the rabbis at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. He said he was very happy to see them, despite his illness, the Associated Press reported.

The 86-year-old pontiff “preferred to greet the European rabbis individually, and that’s why he handed over his speech,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, adding that the pope “has a bit of a cold and a long day of audiences.’’

Pope Francis called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas during his weekly Sunday address on Oct. 29 in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

“In Gaza, spaces must be left to guarantee humanitarian aid and the hostages must be released immediately,” the pope said. “Cease fire! Cease fire! Stop, brothers and sisters. War is always a defeat.”

On Oct. 11, the pope called for the immediate release of the Israelis and foreign nationals held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Catholic News Service reported.

He also affirmed Israel’s right to defend its citizens against terrorism.

“I ask that the hostages be released immediately,” stated the pontiff at his weekly audience at the Vatican.

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