Monday January 18, 2010

Pope Calls on Jews to Work with Christians to Protect Life and Family

By Hilary White, Rome correspondent

ROME, January 18, 2010 ( – During his visit this Sunday to Rome’s principal synagogue, Pope Benedict XVI called on Jews and Christians alike to defend the unborn and vulnerable, citing the Ten Commandments as the foundation of the pro-life, pro-human philosophy shared by both religious traditions.

The Ten Commandments, the pope said, constitute “a beacon and a norm of life in justice and love, a ‘great ethical code’ for all humanity.” This Sunday’s visit was the first to the synagogue by a pope since that of the late John Paul II in 1986. Benedict has also visited synagogues in Cologne and New York.

The Decalogue, Benedict said, calls us “to respect life and to protect it against all injustice and abuse, recognizing the worth of each human person, created in the image and likeness of God.”

Linking the historic struggles of the Jewish community with anti-Semitism with all attacks on human life, Benedict exclaimed, “How often, in every part of the world, near and far, the dignity, the freedom and the rights of human beings are trampled upon!”

The Ten Commandments “call us to preserve and to promote the sanctity of the family, in which the personal and reciprocal, faithful and definitive ‘yes’ of man and woman opens the way to the future, to the authentic humanity of each, and at the same time opens them to the gift of a new life,” said the pope.

“To witness that the family continues to be the essential cell of society and the basic environment in which human virtues are learned and practiced is a vital service for the building of a world with a more human face.”

The pope noted the shared “spiritual heritage” of Christians and Jews and called for the creation of a “space for dialogue, for reciprocal respect, for growth in friendship, for a common witness in the face of the challenges of our time.”

The one unifying rule of the “love of God and in mercy towards one’s neighbor,” compels Jews and Christians to exercise “a special generosity towards the poor, towards women and children, strangers, the sick, the weak and the needy.”