The Pope Francis Effect and Catholic-Jewish Relations The_Pope_Francis_Effect - Page 6

Pope Francis enjoys well-documented positive relationships Jewish people remain for us the holy root from with Argentinian-Jewish leaders, particularly rabbis. He which Jesus was born.... As my mind turned to the publicly celebrates his friendship with Rabbi Abraham terrible experience of the Shoah, I looked to God. Skorka. Their rabbi–priest conversations, part of a television What I can tell you, with Saint Paul, is that God has series, were adapted into the one and only book, On Heaven never neglected his faithfulness to the covenant and Earth, authored by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the with Israel, and that, through the awful trials of future pope, before his ascent to the papacy. these last centuries, the Jews have preserved their faith in God. And for this, we, the Church and the intensity of Francis’ engagement with the Jewish people whole human family, can never be sufficiently through meetings, gestures, and formal and informal grateful to them. 9 he initiated a warm exchange with the Chief Rabbi of Rome, In a letter to La Republica, Chief Rabbi Di Segni, who Dr. Riccardo Di Segni. At his installation a few is known to set cautious limits to interreligious dialogue, days later, the pope singled out for welcome the Jewish wrote, “This pontiff does not cease to surprise.” 10 While leaders in attendance with the phrase, “the representatives acknowledging that Francis’ sentiments are not new to of the Jewish community and the other religious the Catholic Church, Di Segni nonetheless exclaimed, “It is 7 There is no papal precedent for the frequency and pronouncements and teachings. On the day of his election communities.” 8 In Francis’ characteristic yet remarkable interaction with the force with which he expresses them and his capacity of communicating them that is astounding.” 11 The profound Eugenio Scalfari, the self-described non-believer and truth in this observation is applicable as well to Pope co-founder and former editor of La Republica, the pope Francis’ wider ability to resuscitate the Church. Without wrote, minimizing the positive content of the pope’s statements, it is often the way he says things more than the content of With the help of God, especially since the Second his utterances that has brought a new spirit to the Church. Vatican Council, we have rediscovered that the Beginning with his first audience at the Vatican with 7. Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka, On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century, trans. Alejandro Bermudez and Howard Goodman, (New York: Image, 2013). 8. Pope Francis, Mass, Imposition of the Pallium and Bestowal of the Fisherman’s Ring for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome: Homily of Pope Francis (March 19, 2013), 1, http://w2.vatican.va/ content/francesco/en/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130319_ omelia-inizio-pontificato.html, accessed March 5, 2015. 4 9. Pope Francis, Letter to a Non-Believer (Sept 4, 2013), 4, http:// w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2013/documents/papa- francesco_20130911_eugenio-scalfari.html, accessed March 5, 2015. 10. As quoted in Lisa Palmieri-Billig, “Pope Francis and the Jews: the first six months,” Vatican Insider: La Stampa, (Sept. 18, 2013), http://vaticaninsider. lastampa.it/en/inquiries-and-interviews/detail/articolo/jews-di-segni- david-rosen-vatican-ii-27954/, accessed March 5, 2015. 11. Ibid. 5