On March 13, while celebrating the second anniversary of his pontificate, Jorge Mario Bergoglio announced an Extraordinary Jubilee Year dedicated to mercy.
Considering the impact the event will have on the city of Rome in terms of traffic and roadworks and the added fear of terrorist attacks (ISIS has singled out Rome and the Vatican as targets multiple times), every citizen of Rome will be affected by the Jubilee, regardless of their religious affiliation.
“Every opportunity is good for fostering dialogue,” commented the Chief Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni in an interview to the Italian daily La Repubblica.
He also confirmed that they are planning a visit of Pope Francis to the Great Synagogue in Rome. “The Extraordinary Jubilee Year is fully a Catholic event: we look at this Jubilee year with interest and attention, but we are merely bystanders of this important occasion.”
Rabbi Di Segni also stressed the importance of mercy in Jewish thought. “Mercy is a key concept in Jewish thought. Christianity has inherited it and made it its own, but its birthright is in our tradition, even though Christianity denied it for a long time, presenting it as kind of revolution,” he said, explaining how mercy is present at the beginning of the book of Genesis, where it is told how God created the world with both mercy and justice.
“This dualism has been the base of one of the most hateful anti-Jewish prejudices, that the God of the Jews is a God of Justice and not of Love, something that is theological nonsense,” he stressed.
The Chief Rabbi of Rome expressed his hope that the city had learned its lesson from the Jubilee in 2000 and that this time it will be ready for the event. When asked if he was worried about security in the Jewish quarter, he underlined that the threat of terrorism affects not only Jews but it is a menace for all citizens.
“The Jubilee is a great opportunity for dialogue and we are eager to help with every initiative [that goes in this direction]. Perhaps this Jubilee Year can be a brilliant response to obscurantism which is trying to create an atmosphere of fear,” said the president of the Jewish Community of Rome, Riccardo Pacifici.
(in the picture, Rabbi Di Segni and a delegation of the Jewish Community of Rome meeting Bergoglio)