Popular Posts

Thursday, March 14, 2013

(UPDATE) Positive Reaction from Jewish Leaders to Pope Francis

Jewish reaction to the naming of Cardinal Bergoglio as the new pope has been positive.

JewishJournal.com reports that he is remembered fondly for his compassionate response to Jews in Argentina:
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio attended Rosh Hashanah services at the Benei Tikva Slijot synagogue in September 2007.
Rabbi David Rosen, the director of interfaith affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told JTA that the new pope is a "warm and sweet and modest man" known in Buenos Aires for doing his own cooking and personally answering his phone.
After the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, he "showed solidarity with the Jewish community," Rosen said.
In 2005, Bergoglio was the first public personality to sign a petition for justice in the AMIA bombing case. He also was one of the signatories on a document called "85 victims, 85 signatures" as part of the bombing's 11th anniversary. In June 2010, he visited the rebuilt AMIA building to talk with Jewish leaders.
"Those who said Benedict was the last pope who would be a pope that lived through the Shoah, or that said there would not be another pope who had a personal connection to the Jewish people, they were wrong," Rosen said…
Israel Singer, the former head of the World Jewish Congress, said he spent time working with Bergoglio when the two were distributing aid to the poor in Buenos Aires in the early 2000s, part of a joint Jewish-Catholic program called Tzedaka.
“We went out to the barrios where Jews and Catholics were suffering togeher,” Singer told JTA. “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.”
Bergoglio also wrote the foreward of a book by Rabbi Sergio Bergman and referred to him as “one of my teachers.”
Last November, Bergoglio hosted a Kristallnacht memorial event at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral with Rabbi Alejandro Avruj from the NCI-Emanuel World Masorti congregation.
He also has worked with the Latin American Jewish Congress and held meetings with Jewish youth who participate in its New Generations program.
“The Latin American Jewish Congress has had a close relationship with Jorge Bergoglio for several years," Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, told JTA. "We know his values and strengths. We have no doubt he will do a great job leading the Catholic Church."
In his visit to the Buenos Aires synagogue, according to the Catholic Zenit news agency, Bergoglio told the congregation that he was there to examine his heart "like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers."
"Today, here in this synagogue, we are made newly aware of the fact that we are a people on a journey and we place ourselves in God’s presence," Zenit quoted the then-archbishop as saying. "We must look at him and let him look at us, to examine our heart in his presence and to ask ourselves if we are walking blamelessly."
Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, offered Italian Jewry's congratualations to the new pope with the “most fervent wishes” that his pontificate could bring “peace and brotherhood to all humanity.”
In particular, Gattegna voiced the hope that there would be a continuation “with reciprocal satisfaction” of “the intense course of dialogue that the Jews have always hoped for and that has been also realized through the work of the popes who have led the church in the recent past."

In a separate article, JewishJournal.com reports that international Jewish leaders are also hopeful that the new pope will prove to be a friend of Jews around the world as we was a friend of Jews in Argentina:
“In the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, the widely shared impression is that he’s very friendly, that the cardinal was determined to have a cordial relationship with the Jewish community,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said…
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, who met Bergoglio in 2008, expressed optimism that Francis would continue the work of building relationships between the Catholic Church and world Jewry.
“He always had an open ear for our concerns,” Lauder said in a statement. “I am sure that Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.”
Bergoglio’s reputation in Argentina is not that of a reformer. He is known to be socially conservative, upholding the church’s traditionally held positions on gay rights and abortion. He has not said much publicly about Israel in the past, but Hier said he is hopeful that Francis will emerge as a supporter of the Jewish state.
“We very much see him as a pope in the tradition of John Paul II and John XXIII,” Hier said. John Paul II established formal relations between the Vatican and Israel; John XXIII is believed to have influenced the drafting of “Nostra Aetate,” the 1965 declaration that stated Jews could not be held responsible for the death of Jesus.


Religious News Service filed a report highlighting the significance of the pontiff's age and memory of the Holocaust:

“We welcome Pope Francis I to his new role as leader of the Catholic Church,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said in a statement. “Catholic-Jewish relations had remained a focus of Pope Benedict XVI and we look forward to continuing the solid foundation that already exists for interfaith dialogue.”
Other Jewish leaders and scholars noted that Francis’ relatively advanced age — 76 — is important to the Jewish community, in that the Holocaust happened during his lifetime and can conjure memories for him of the horrors to which anti-Semitism can lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment