NEW YORK - World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder had the following reaction to the election of Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, as new Pope Francis I:
“On behalf of the World Jewish Congress and our affiliated Jewish communities and organizations in 100 countries world-wide I warmly congratulate Cardinal Bergoglio on his election as new pope. We look forward to continuing the close relationship that has been fostered between the Catholic Church and the Jews over the past two decades.
“Pope Francis I is no stranger to us. In recent years he attended many inter-faith events co-organized by the WJC and our regional affiliate, the Latin American Jewish Congress. I personally met with him in Buenos Aires in June 2008. He always had an open ear for our concerns. By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world. I am sure that Pope Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.
“During the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, Catholic-Jewish relations reached unprecedented levels. This was due to the determination of the pope to continue the work of his predecessor, John Paul II. We are convinced that new pontiff will continue on this path, that he will speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism both within and without the Catholic Church, that he will take action against clerics who deny or belittle the Holocaust, and that he will strengthen the Vatican’s relationship with Israel.
"We hope that Pope Francis I will soon be able to meet with us to discuss the challenges that lie ahead.”
About the World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations. Since its foundation in 1936, the WJC has been at the forefront of inter-religious dialogue, notably with the Catholic Church.