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
There is no papal precedent for the frequency and
pronouncements and teachings. On the day of his election
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/
omelia-inizio-pontificato.html, accessed March 5, 2015.
9. Pope Francis, Letter to a Non-Believer (Sept 4, 2013), 4, http://
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.
david-rosen-vatican-ii-27954/, accessed March 5, 2015.