Pope Francis - Copyright AGF s.r.l. / REX

Pope Francis says a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite

The Pope has stated "A Christian cannot be an anti-Semite".

Pope Francis was speaking after receiving a delegation from the ancient community of Mountain Jews to discuss Holocaust anniversaries and the problems of anti-Semitism in the world today.

It is the first time a pope has received anyone from the World Congress of Mountain Jews, a community that dates back to the 5th century.

Mountain Jews are descended from the Persian Jews who came from modern-day Iran. About one and a half thousand of them were killed during the Holocaust, mostly from Crimea.

Pope Francis said: "The attempt to replace the God of goodness with the idolatry of power and the ideology of hatred ended in the folly of exterminating human beings.

"Consequently, religious freedom is a supreme good to be safeguarded, a fundamental human right and a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism."

The Pope went on to note that there are still anti-Semitic attitudes in society today.

"As I have often repeated, a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite; we share the same roots," he added.

"It would be a contradiction of faith and life. Rather, we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community."

Pope Francis recently visited Lithuania where he prayed at the memorial to the victims of the ghetto in the capital, Vilnius.

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