Vatican, Rome
Vatican, RomeSerge Attal/Flash 90

The president of the main Jewish communal organization in the UK met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.

The meeting between Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl and Pope Francis “demonstrated the significant and close relationship between Jewish and Catholic communities today,” the Board of Deputies said in a statement.

Van der Zyl, along with the chief executive of the Board, Michael Wegier, were in the front row for the Pope’s weekly general audience.

When the People was done with his opening remarks, he conversed with both of them for several minutes.

Van der Zyl thanked the Pope for the “warmth of the relationship between Catholic and Jewish communities in recent decades” and stressed how important that relationship is, especially in the UK.

She also thanked him for his significant efforts on promoting Holocaust remembrance and speaking against antisemitism.

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet Pope Francis to discuss issues of importance to both our communities,” van der Zyl said. “As two historic religious communities, the relationship between the Jewish and Catholic communities is of great significance and particularly in recent decades since [Vatican II]... Since then it has grown from strength to strength.”

She added: “As faith communities, we will continue to build on this relationship and work together to further combat bigotry, protect religious freedoms and create bridges of understanding between our communities.”

The Board president gifted Pope Francis a rare signed volume of the History of the Great Synagogue, by British Jewish historian, Cecil Roth, which the Pop said he was honored to accept.

During the Board’s visit to Rome, van der Zyl and Wegier also met with the Chief Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni, and other leaders of the city’s Jewish community. They also toured the Great Synagogue of Rome and other Jewish sites.