Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See on June 11 with a visit to a synagogue.
Fresh from his recent ad limina
trip to Rome, the cardinal led officials of the Vatican nunciature in Manila on a visit to the Beth Yaacov Synagogue
in the Philippine business district of Makati.
The visit was a reminder of the continuing "culture of encounter" between Catholics and the Jewish people, said Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila.
"The gathering allows us to appreciate the value of dialogue between peoples and nations who are continuously in search of fundamental unity amidst diversity," added the priest.
Rabbi Eliyahu Azaria said the visit highlighted the friendship between the Philippines, the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.
"It is a beautiful thing when we can come together even though our beliefs may be a little different, but we share so much in common," said the rabbi.
He said the "key message" of Cardinal Tagle's visit is the "message of tolerance."
"The Philippines has this amazing history with the Jewish people. It always opens its doors to Jews. There is no anti-Semitism here," said Israel's ambassador to Manila Rafael Harpaz.
He said the Philippines has been a "blessing" to the Jewish people.
Many Jewish families found a home in the Philippines after escaping the Nazis in the 1930s.
The ambassador also cited Manila's support for Israel's membership of the United Nations when the Philippines’ vote became the decider at the U.N. to separate Israel from Palestine.
"I think this visit symbolizes in all spectrum where [Israel-Philippine] relations are," said Harpaz, adding that economic and cultural ties between the two countries are "flourishing."
On May 15 this year, Pope Francis noted in his message to an international gathering of Jewish people that Jewish-Catholic dialogue
"has borne good fruit."
"Dialogue is the way to better understand one another and to work together in building a climate not only of tolerance but also of respect for all," said the pontiff.
Watch this video of more from Rabbi Eliyahu Azaria and Israel's ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz.