Pope Francis is “an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness . . . a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths,” says Ronald Lauder , the president of the World Jewish Congress, conveying the group’s “warm congratulations” to the new pope. “He 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. 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.”

“We went out to the barrios where Jews and Catholics were suffering togeher,” says the former heard of the WJC, Israel Singer . “If everyone sat in chairs with handles, he would sit in the one without. He was always looking to be more modest. He’s going to find it hard to wear all these uniforms.”

In congratulating Francis, the American Jewish Committee said, “Pope Francis has demonstrated his profound solidarity with the Jewish community in Argentina in both times of sorrow and joy. We look forward to continued close collaboration with the Catholic Church under his leadership as we have been privileged to enjoy with his predecessors.” Rabbi David Rosen had much more to say, all very positive (Francis himself is “a warm, sweet, and modest man”), in a video recorded in Jerusalem.

“We believe that the election of Francis I is a significant moment in the history of the Church,” says the the Anti-Defamation League in congratulating Francis.  ”We look forward to working with him to continue to foster Catholic-Jewish relations as we have with his predecessors.  There is much in his record that reassures us about the future,” says the ADL, going on to describe his support of and friendships with Argentina’s Jewish community.

“We know his values and strengths. We have no doubt he will do a great job leading the Catholic Church,” says Claudio Epelman of the Latin American Jewish Congress , referring to the Congress’s “close relationship” with the new pope. (In its story reporting Jewish responses, the  Jewish Daily Forward subtitled the story “Pontiff earned reputation as humble friend of community.”)

Israel’s president Shimon Peres says Francis “represents devotion, the love of God, the love of peace, a holy modesty and a new continent which is now awakening, . . .  He will remind all of us, as a shepherd of our time, that the Lord loves the poor, not only the mighty, that the Lord calls us to peace not for hatred, that the Lord calls us to serve each other, to build a world where people are together without hatred.”

Thanks to Shmuel Ben-Gad for his lead.

Articles by David Mills

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