The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, newly installed as Pope Francis I, opened his speech at today’s Papal inauguration with a nod to the Jewish community, saying say he was speaking “with the permission of the diplomatic corps, the Jews who are with us and all the rest,” according to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.
A delegation of leaders of Jewish communities from around the world, including Rabbinate Director General Oded Weiner, was on hand at the Vatican today when Bergoglio officially took office as the leader of the world’s more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The delegation is set to meet with the Pope on Wednesday.
“This reference to the Jews appears as a continuation of the warm ties forged between the Vatican and the Jewish people during the tenure of Pope John Paul II, who said that God never broke His covenant with the Jews,” according to Rabbinate spokesman Ziv Maor. Francis’ predecessor “Pope Benedict the 16th strengthened and nurtured the relationship” as well, he said, before noting that Francis had sent Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar personalized greeting cards on the occasion of his taking on the Papacy.
Jewish leaders have expressed satisfaction with Francis’ selection as the head of the Vatican due to the new Pope’s long record of cooperation and amiable relations with the Jewish community of his native Argentina.
Israeli officials are bullish on the pope, with the Chief Rabbinate expressing confidence last week 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.”
Upon Francis’ selection at last week’s Vatican conclave, Zion Evrony, ambassador of Israel to the Vatican, told The Jerusalem Post
that he believed and hoped that “relations will deepen and expand” under Francis.