Updated: 2 hours, 2 minutes ago
VATICAN CITY - Top officials from the World Jewish Congress said they met Monday with Pope Benedict XVI, voicing their concern about Iran and anti-Semitism in Europe and encouraging interfaith dialogue with moderate Muslims.
WJC President Ronald Lauder and the group’s new secretary general, Michael Schneider, met with Benedict in a private audience at the Vatican.
Schneider said the delegation thanked the pope for his work supporting interfaith relations and invited him to meet with senior Jewish leaders during his planned trip to New York next year.
“We mentioned our extreme anxiety over the Iran situation, not just because of the Jewish angle but because it was a threat to world stability,” Schneider said in a telephone interview. “We were extremely anxious to find some way to be helpful in pushing the Iranians to some kind of sensibility.”
He said the delegation also repeated the WJC’s proposal to reach out to the moderate Muslim world “to establish a dialogue among moderates and to try to reach some common ground.” The WJC has previously proposed expanding the Vatican-Jewish dialogue to include moderate Muslims.