Vatican City, March 20 - Pope Francis called for respect and friendship among religions and dialogue for Christian unity in a meeting on Wednesday with representatives of different faiths and of other Christian denominations. "The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions," Pope Francis said not once, but twice, in order to underline its importance. "I confirm as of now my determination to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue," Francis continued. He added that unity among Christians is "the first and foremost of our concerns, one of the basic requirements for our Christian testimony to be credible" to those on the fringes or outside the church. Francis referred to the Second Vatican Council and "the words of the blessed Pope John XXIII" who in his inaugural discourse cited Jesus Christ's "ardent prayer" to God for unity before crucifixion. The pope added: "Yes, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we all feel intimately united" in Christ's prayer at the Last Supper 'ut unum snit', that the religion be one. The pope also addressed Jewish leaders specifically, underlining the "extremely special spiritual bond" that ties Christians and Jews. Pope Francis said he would continue the "Year of Faith", an initiative initiated by "my venerated predecessor Benedict XVI with truly inspired intuition". Continuing his stamp as defender of the poor and the weak, Francis added that he was "aware of the responsibility that we all bring to our world, toward all of creation, that we must love and protect. And we can do much for the good of those who are poor, those who are weak, for those who suffer, to favor justice, to promote reconciliation, to build peace".