Pope Francis has celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant moments in Catholic-Jewish relations by hosting an international delegation organised by the Council of Christians and Jews.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

The groundbreaking Nostra Aetate was a watershed in Vatican relations with other faiths. It insisted the Jewish community cannot be held responsible for the death of Christ and that the community should not be seen as having been rejected by God.

During an audience at the Vatican, the Pope spoke individually to each of the 250-strong delegation, including CCJ-UK’s Dr Jane Clements, Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko and Zaki Cooper. A chalice designed by vice-chair Maurice Ostro was presented to the Pope in memory of his father Max, who was saved by Catholics during the Second World War.

The pontiff said: “This document represents a definitive ‘yes’ to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable ‘no’ to anti-Semitism.

“In celebrating the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate…we can express our thanks to God for all the good which has been realised in terms of friendship and mutual understanding. We are strangers no more but friends, brothers, sisters.”