Israel, Jews pleased with new pope

Friday, March 15, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli leaders on Thursday welcomed news that Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires had been selected as the new pope.

Bergoglio will be sworn in as Pope Francis I next week.

"The new pope will be welcomed in the Holy Land with love and appreciation by Jews, Muslims and Christians as one," said Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Anti-Defamation League President Abe Foxman said he was "reassured" over the new pope's record regarding the Jews, and Rabbi David Rosen of American Jewish Committee labeled the incoming pontiff a "warm and sweet and modest man."

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio had good relations with the local Jewish community. He attended a Rosh Hashanah celebration at a local synagogue in 2007, and for years has led solidarity efforts and calls for justice in respect to the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

Many Jews were concerned that only a European pope who had lived through the Holocaust could truly appreciate the history of the Jews vis-a-vis the Church, and that popes John Paul and Benedict XVI would be the last to truly foster strong Jewish-Catholic relations.

But those concerns have been put to rest with the selection of Pope Francis I, who is being universally praised for his down-to-earth and genuinely sympathetic nature.

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