Pope Francis welcomed by Jews in Rome and Jerusalem

Pontiff calls for dialogue now

Pope Francis welcomed by Jews in Rome and Jerusalem

Rome, March 15 - Well wishes and appreciation for Pope Francis have poured in from the Jewish community, both in the Italian capital and Jerusalem. The newly elected pontiff invited Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni to his inauguration, saying that he wanted warm relations between the two religions to continue. "On the day of my election as Bishop of Rome and universal pastor of the Catholic church, I send you my warm greetings, announcing that the solemn inauguration of my pontificate will take place on Tuesday, March 19". In a brief but significant letter, the pope said, "Confiding in the protection of the Almighty, I sincerely hope to be able to contribute to progress in relations between Jews and Catholics made since the Second Vatican Council". Di Segni welcomed the words and replied to thank the pontiff, renewing his "well wishes for this election which will require a huge dose of strength and wisdom". The rabbi told ANSA he was "pleased" with the letter. "I see that the line traced by Benedict XVI is continuing", he told ANSA. "The Second Vatican Council has set the base for all progress made by the Catholic Church in the past few years. I imagine and hope this will be an indication not to renounce to these principles". Francis also invited Di Segni to the papal inaugural ceremony on March 19, when some 200 delegations of heads of state and government from around the world are expected. The Rabbinate of Jerusalem, Sefardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also wished the pope well and called for continuity with the two previous pontificates. "Over the past 12 years there has been a rich and fruitful dialogue between the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel on primary issues such as banning terrorism in God's name, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of the family unit, etc," the Chief Rabbinate said in a statement. "The two previous Pontiffs have played a significant role in the fight against anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is confident that Pope Francis, whose good relations with the Jewish People are well known, will keep the same spirit, and strengthen and develop the Roman Catholic Church's connections with the State of Israel and the Jewish People".

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