Jewish leader hails Pope Francis

Pontiff ‘personal friends’ to Jews – Rabbi

A leading member of the American Jewish Committee has hailed Pope Francis as a “personal friend” of the Jewish people.

Following his meeting with the Pope as part of a delegation visiting Rome on February 13, Rabbi David Rosen, the committee’s director of Interreligious Affairs, said the warmth exuded by the Pontiff for his guests had created a sense of a “family reunion”.

“That of course is the amazing power of Pope Francis, this charism that has enveloped him since he has ascended to the pontificate,” Rabbis Rosen said. “But it has a special significance in terms of the Jewish-Catholic relationship because we are not only coming to a friend but somebody who sees us as friends. And therefore, in a sense, it was a kind of family reunion. That was the feeling, it was a special family meeting.”

While acknowledging the efforts of former Popes, such as John XXIII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, in terms of Christian-Jewish relations, Rabbi Rosen stressed: “There has never been a Pope who has had as much intimacy, as much personal friendship, as much engagement with the Jewish community as Pope Francis,” Rabbi Rosen said.

In light of the good relations fostered by the Rome visit, Rabbi Rosen said the Pope’s forthcoming visit to the Holy Land could only be a great success.

"No matter how short, it is a guaranteed success,” he said, adding that the trip “will be an inspiration to the people of the Holy Land.”