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Rabbinate hopes for cooperation with new pope

Israel’s chief rabbis want to continue ‘rich and productive dialogue’ with the Vatican and newly chosen Catholic leader

Pope Benedict XVI meets with Israel's chief Rabbis Yona Metzger (L) and Shlomo Amar at the center for Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem, May 2009 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Pope Benedict XVI meets with Israel's chief Rabbis Yona Metzger (L) and Shlomo Amar at the center for Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem, May 2009 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate on Thursday expressed hope that cooperation with the newly elected pope would be as positive as it was with the previous two Catholic leaders.

“For the past 12 years there has been a rich and productive dialogue between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Vatican,” a statement issued by the religious authority said. Cooperation was close on various important matters, it said, including “forbidding the use of God’s name to justify acts of terror, the sanctity of life and the holiness of the family unit.”

The dialogue between the sides received the “blessing and personal involvement of the previous two popes,” the statement read.
The rabbinate said it was sure “Pope Francis, who is well known to have good relationships with Jews,” would continue in the spirit of the previous Catholic leaders to “strengthen and foster the connection with the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Earlier in the day President Shimon Peres invited the new pope for a visit to Israel, asking him to contribute to peace as a spiritual, rather than a political, leader.

“He’ll be a welcome guest in the Holy Land, as a man of inspiration who can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area,” Peres said during a meeting with the leaders of the Catholic Church in Poland on Thursday. “All people here, without exception, without difference of religion or nationality, will welcome the newly elected pope.”

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, was elected to head the Roman Catholic Church by a conclave of cardinals in the Vatican on Wednesday.

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