Rabbi Hier to Pope Francis: 'Peace is one of Judaism's Greatest Virtues' — But ‘Evil is Real and Must be Confronted’

The world must not forget to act when dealing with terrorists and rogue nations’

October 24, 2013
Vatican City

A sixty-member Simon Wiesenthal Center delegation that included Holocaust survivors, Christians and a prominent Muslim met today with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican.

In his speech, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the Jewish human rights NGO, raised the continuing threats from terrorists and rogue nations, like Iran.

“There is no greater virtue in Judaism than peace or ‘Shalom’. Peace dominates our prayers. Peace, ‘Shalom’ is one of the names of the Almighty himself, “ Rabbi Hier said. “But peace is attainable, …only if one is willing to make changes.”

“There are some nations who can’t compromise. That’s what Chamberlain forgot in 1938 when he returned from Munich with his ‘Peace in our time’. Only Churchill understood who Hitler really was. If not for him, today’s audience with Your Holiness and a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center could never have taken place.”

Turning to the resurgence of anti-Semitism, Rabbi Hier declared, “Seventy-five years after the infamous Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom, a poll commissioned by the respected Ebert Foundation estimates that 150 million Europeans still harbor anti-Jewish sentiment.

“Your Holiness, we know that we have you as an ally in our struggles against anti-Semitism, and we want to reiterate to you that you have an ally in the Simon Wiesenthal Center in your struggle to secure the rights of religious minorities everywhere, especially endangered historic Christian communities in Egypt, Iraq and beyond.”

“Finally, we are delighted that Your Holiness has accepted an invitation to visit Israel next year – the spiritual center of the Jewish people, where Jews, Christians and Muslims are free to practice their faith and to express their opinions without fear or repression. May your presence there help all those committed to a lasting Middle East peace, to finally recognize the existence of a Jewish state alongside her twenty-three Arab neighbors,” Rabbi Hier concluded.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reaffirmed his condemnation of “all forms of anti-Semitism,” adding, “The problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms… [including] the marginalization and the very real persecutions which not a few Christians are undergoing in various countries.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Chairman, Larry Mizel presented the Pope with a specially-commissioned Jerusalem Stone menorah with a quote from Psalms reflecting the new Pontiff’s emphasis on values of kindness and good deeds - “Righteousness and Justice are His Throne’s Foundation”.

•Read Pope Francis' remarks here     •Read Rabbi Marvin Hier's full remarks here

From the Official Vatican Network: To the Simon wiesenthal Centre: face the problem of intolerance together

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament