Israel welcomes new pope as friend of the Jews

Associated Press
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals, inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Thursday, March 14, 2013. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
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In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural …

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli leaders are welcoming the selection of Pope Francis and calling him a friend of the Jewish people.

President Shimon Peres invited the new pope to follow the lead of his two predecessors and visit Israel. In a meeting with Roman Catholic Church leaders in Poland Thursday, Peres called Francis "a man of inspiration that can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is sure the "excellent relations" between Jews and Christians as well as between Israel and the Vatican will continue.

Israel's chief rabbinate also welcomed the appointment, saying Pope Francis' "good relations with the Jewish People are well known."

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, has been chosen as the 266th pope.

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