B’nai B’rith International welcomes Pope Francis, who was elected at the Vatican on March 13 by the 115 Catholic cardinals eligible to vote.
The new pope, the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the first pope from Latin America. He will lead a Catholic church with 1.2 billion followers.
In November, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was the keynote speaker at B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires, where he helped light a candle in commemoration of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
“We welcome Pope Francis to his new role as leader of the Catholic Church,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “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.”
Pope Benedict resigned last month. Pope Francis is the 266th pope.
“We have been encouraged by the historic progress in Catholic-Jewish relations,” said B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Interfaith dialogue, stressing tolerance and mutual respect, is increasingly important in today’s world.”
B’nai B’rith leaders met with Pope Benedict, as with a line of his predecessors, on multiple occasions and looks forward to establishing a similar relationship with Pope Francis.