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Pope condemns anti-Judaism, anti-Semitism amid new wave of attacks against Jews

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis celebrates Mass for members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis condemned all forms of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, labelling them as a "sin against God", after noticing an increase in attacks against Jews around the world.

"(The Church) rejects every form of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, unequivocally condemning manifestations of hatred towards Jews and Judaism as a sin against God," the pontiff wrote in a letter to the Jewish population of Israel dated Feb. 2 and made public on Saturday.

"Together with you, we, Catholics, are very concerned about the terrible increase in attacks against Jews around the world. We had hoped that 'never again' would be a refrain heard by the new generations," he added.

The Pope noted that wars and divisions are increasing all over the world "in a sort of piecemeal world war", hitting the lives of many populations.

Francis, 87, has condemned Hamas' Oct. 7 cross-border attack from Gaza into southern Israel. He has also said on several occasions that a two-state solution was needed to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his letter, the pope also called, once again, for the release of those hostages still being held by militants.

He said his heart was torn at the sight of the conflict in the Holy Land and the division and hatred stemming from it, adding that the world was looking at the unfolding of events in the area with "apprehension and pain".

He assured the Jewish community of his closeness and affection, "particularly (those) consumed by anguish, pain, fear and even anger", repeating his call for the end of the war.

Francis said he prayed for peace. "My heart is close to you, to the Holy Land, to all the peoples who inhabit it, Israelis and Palestinians, and I pray that the desire for peace may prevail in all".

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by David Holmes)