Just hours after he was elected the first Latin American pope in history, Francis sent a letter to Rome’s chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, saying he hoped to “contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics” have seen since the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.
In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, di Segni said the dialogue between Catholicism and Judaism was “complicated” but added that the new pope’s background “gives me trust and hope” that relations will continue to improve.
Other Jewish leaders welcomed the election of a pontiff seen as an ally when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Francis would be a “welcome guest in the Holy Land” while Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said the new pope “always had an open ear for our concerns.”
“By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world,” Lauder said. “I am sure that Pope Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.”
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