Pope Francis has said that Christians and Jews can work together to help the contemporary problems of secularism.

“Humanity needs our joint witness in favor of respect for the dignity of man and woman created in the image and likeness of God, and in favor of peace which is above all God’s gift,” Pope Francis told members of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations on  Monday.

“Friendly relations are in a way the basis for the development of a more official dialogue,” he added.

The meeting was his first as Bishop as Rome with official representatives of Judaism, the Catholic News Agency reports.

He emphasized that “due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic,” and pointed to the writings of Saint Paul, who “firmly condemned hatred, persecution and all forms of anti-Semitism.”

Pope Francis spoke about his friends in the Jewish community that he made during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“I had the joy of maintaining relations of sincere friendship with leaders of the Jewish world,” Pope Francis remarked.

“We talked often of our respective religious identities, the image of man found in the Scriptures, and how to keep an awareness of God alive in a world now secularized in many ways.”

He told members of the International Jewish Committee that he frequently met with Argentine Jews to discuss the challenges which Jews and Christians both face.

During his tenure as head of the church in Buenos Aires he wrote a book of dialogues between him and Argentine rabbi  Abraham Skorka, called “On Heaven and Earth”.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina - Pope Francis ITheweek.com