Why Some Jewish Leaders Are Excited About Pope Francis

He’s only been in the Vatican since March but there’s already talk that under the guidance of Pope Francis, the relations between Jews and Catholics could be better than ever before.

Most of that hopefulness stems from the way that the new pope worked with rabbis in Argentina, a connection that the general counsel for the World Jewish Congress called “unprecedented in terms of warmth and closeness.”

Jorge Ramos will examine that long and complex relationship on Monday when he interviews Rabbi Mario Rojzman, a Miami-based faith leader and human-rights activist.

Rojzman had the opportunity to travel to Rome for an audience with the pope in October. Both the rabbi and the new pontiff were born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and share that common culture.

Rojzman showed his approval of the pope in an op-ed published in the Miami Herald earlier this month, saying that “the Jewish people could not have a better friend” in the Vatican.

“I remember just as he assumed his office, commentators speculated that the new pope, not being of European origin and not having been marked by the tragic results of the Shoah (Holocaust), would not be able to give a predominant place to Catholic-Jewish relations,” Rojzman wrote. “But, they did not know Francis. As a compatriot of the Holy Father, I can say that the pope is ‘one of us!’”

For centuries, Catholic popes expressed mistrust and even disdain for Jews, and in the modern era, some have said the church’s response to the Holocaust was insufficient, calling Pope Pius XII “Hitler’s pope.”

The wounds of the Holocaust came to mind when Rojzman met with Pope Francis, something the rabbi wrote about in his recent op-ed.

“And, with the best saved for last, we parted with a hug,” Rojzman said of his audience with Pope Francis. “While we were embracing, I saw the face of my grandmother, one of the 6 million Jews murdered because of intolerance, speaking to me: Good for you, I am so glad this is a better world.”

Watch “AMERICA with Jorge Ramos” on Monday at 8 p.m. ET for an interview with Rabbi Mario Rojzman.

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