The Jewish delegation to the installation ceremony of Pope Francis on Tuesday, March 19, was the only non-Christian group to receive a special mention.
Pope Francis opened his speech by saying he was speaking “with the permission of the diplomatic corps, the Jews who are with us and all the rest,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Many in the Jewish community hope Pope Francis will continue the strong legacy of his predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, in strengthening Catholic-Jewish relations.
“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,” said Israeli Chief Rabbinate spokesman Ziv Maor, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Representatives from over 132 nations, including dozens of heads of state, attended the ceremony. Leaders of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Jain faiths were also in attendance, the Washington Post reported.
Following the installation, Jewish leaders met with Pope Francis during a private audience with the pontiff on Wednesday.
“Today, at the private audience, we were greeted with special warmth,” said Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) International Director of Interreligious Affair, in a statement.
“It’s encouraging that the Jewish people, including our organization, already have ties to the new pope,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said in a statement. “I think this bodes well for the future as we continue to advance the interreligious dialogue between the two communities.”
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