Historic meeting between Pope Francis and Hungarian Jewish leaders

Pope Francis I attended the closing ceremonies of the 52nd International Eucharistic Conference in Budapest and met with Hungarian Jewish leaders and representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Hungarian Denominations.

During this historical meeting, András Heisler, president of the MAZSIHISZ (Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary), on behalf of the Hungarian Jewry gave a unique Yad (Torah pointer) to the Pope.

A huge crowd welcomed Pope Francis at the Heroes’ square in Budapest. In the first place, the head of the Catholic Church met with the President of Hungary, with the Prime Minister of Hungary and with bishops of Hungary inside the ceremonial hall of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. He subsequently met with representatives of the Hungarian Jewish communities and with delegation of the Ecumenical Council of Hungarian Denominations.

András Heisler president and Chief-Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti represented the MAZSIHISZ as the largest Jewish denomination in Hungary, Alongside Mr. Heisler two reform-progressive Jewish leaders met with the Pope.

The Catholic leader compared the brotherly relations between the Christian and Jewish to the Chain Bridge which connects the Hungarian capital’s two banks and he called for unified action against antisemitism. He added that Jews and Christians do not want to see each other as aliens and opponents but as friends and brothers.

Chief-Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti, on behalf of the Hungarian Jewry read a welcome letter of Dr. Róbert Frölich, Chief-Rabbi of Hungary, who had been hospitalised a few days earlier: “Two large monotheist faiths, two religions – with millennia old and valid teachings – are meeting now in these minutes. (…) “The mutual faith-heritage of the Jews and the Christian shines a light onto the present and provides a beacon for the mutual future of humanity.”

Subsequently, András Heisler, presented the Yad to the Pope,made especially for this occasion by a goldsmith whose parents survived the Holocaust.

Mr. Heisler told the local media that the meeting itself was in elevated mood and he had the opportunity to tell the Catholic leader the symbols of the given present: the Yad reflects the Bible, our mutual treasure, the limestones makes us remember the holy stones of Jerusalem which is holy for Jews and Christians alike. Heisler added: this present was given within a white box which symbolizes the general purity and reflects Pope Francis’ pure ways of thinking.

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