Let our initial words, Your Holiness, be those of gratitude for this private audience that we value as an exceptional privilege.
We value and appreciate the new direction that you are giving to the Church, especially for the underprivileged, those who are beset by all kinds of urgent needs. We are no strangers to these needs, and even those who do not profess the Christian religion, make common cause with assistance to the needy and afflicted. Your spiritual leadership enjoys unanimous worldwide recognition.
We continue to be overwhelmed by questions, how is it that after millennia of monotheism, founded in love of one for the other, the mass murder of millions of human beings, known as the Holocaust, carried out with the participation of more refined techniques, occurred in a continent whose moral and ethical values are based in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The painful experience of the two World Wars, where the number of deaths reached the tens of millions, is the most powerful argument that we have to prevent it from happening again.
In this sense, and from that point of view, we highlight three considerations we deem important:
The first refers to the intent to delegitimize the State of Israel. It must be borne in mind that there was always a Jewish presence in Israel, but the mass return that took place after two millennia to the territories of which today constitutes the State of Israel, transformed (thanks to jalutsim or pioneers) a desolate desert into a leader of great social and scientific progress in the concert of nations. “Delete it from the map,” in the words of his enemies, would constitute not only an aberration, it would constitute a new Holocaust that must be avoided. Your sound of alarm in this respect, based on your moral authority, will surely be respected by all.
Secondly, and in line with the above, is the resurgence of anti-Semitism, especially in civilized Europe. That hatred based on the concept of “race” without considering that a list of the great achievements of mankind, must include the Jewish contribution. This fact cannot be ignored or overlooked. They are victims of an elementary confusion, forgetting that the Jewish people is only the canary in the mine as an indicator of the effect of the initial toxic gases, but eventually lethal gas makes no exceptions. Irrational hatred knows no frontiers and eventually consumes all without distinction. The Jew is the first to be persecuted and hated, but never the only one or the last to suffer.
We see that a good number of Christians are leaving the Middle East because of harassment and persecution. It is ironic, or perhaps fortuitous that Israel is the safest place in the Middle East for a Christian. This fact was attested by Archbishop Diego Padrón in a shared journey to Israel two years ago. I sense that during your visit to Israel, you might have had the same experience. The Church that professes love has to oppose vehemently any expression of hatred, discrimination and persecution.
And thirdly, and not in order of priorities, we who have been privileged with this meeting, are committed Venezuelans with different roles in life. Present here is Martin Camero of TELEVEN a TV channel that does its best to maintain a fine line in these difficult times, Patricia with her husband Gustavo Cisneros whose channel VENEVISION has also had to find a delicate balance these days of uncertainty and insecurity. The plight of our country, is the subject of an exhortation which the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, presided by Archbishop Diego Padrón, issued recently. It is a document that is becoming a point of reference and obligatory reading for all Venezuelans
Regarding this case, information comes through the press, of the Vatican involvement in the process of the renewal of relations between the United States and the Republic of Cuba. This points to a very timely and decisive possible Vatican involvement in search of a dialogue between all the Venezuelan sectors, with an agenda that must produce concrete results.
Finally, I reiterate our thanks for this priceless encounter. I cannot conclude these words without making reference to the personal bonds of friendship that unite us with Cardinal Pietro Parolin whom we met during his brilliant performance as the Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela a few years ago.
I pray to the One and only God of the universe, the God of the Patriarchs Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, that He bless you and continue to enlighten you, give you much health and the opportunity to conduct, with your already proven ability, the destiny of the Church for the greater welfare of all mankind.
Thank you very much.
Rabbi Pynchas Brener