One of Pope Francis’ first acts as head of the Roman Catholic church was to send a personal message to Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, underscoring his desire to foster Catholic-Jewish relations.
"Trusting in the protection of the Most High,” Francis wrote, “I very much hope to be able to contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics have experienced since the Second Vatican Council, in a spirit of renewed collaboration and at the service of a world that can be ever more harmonious with the will of the Creator."
The Catholic news agency Zenit said the message was dated Wednesday, the day that Francis, the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected pope.
Francis also invited Di Segni, as well as the presidents of the Rome Jewish Community and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, to the papal inauguration ceremony to be held in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 19. Di Segni responded to the pope with a letter saying that Francis’ election “gives us the hope that the path of friendship, respect and productive collaboration will continue.”