The selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church has been hailed by the influential New York Board of Rabbis.
“[He] has a history of outstanding relationships with the Jewish people … all people. This is a real selfless soul,’’ Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the board’s executive vice president, told Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.’’
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“If you look at the Bible, Abraham was known for his hospitality … Moses, was known for his identification of those who suffered. So you have Jewish-Christian model of religiosity here that will be emblematic for everyone.’’
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Potasnik said Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — has been instrumental in supporting important, sometimes controversial causes.
“Last week I was present at a demonstration in front of the Consulate of Argentina … to protest the recent agreement between Argentina and Iran in forming a Truth Commission to find out what actually happened in 1994 when 85 people were killed in the community center in Argentina,’’ he said.
“Can you image Iran becoming part of a Truth Commission? That’s like asking the Ku Klux Klan to talk about … who’s responsible for the lynchings. He was one of the strong voices protesting.’’
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And the new pope has been fearless in supporting Jewish causes as well, Potasnik added.
“Kristallnacht, he stood with the Jews. Hanukkah, he stood with the Jews and lit the Hanukkah menorah. This is a true person of faith and a respecter of faiths,’’ Potasnik said.
He also credited New York’s late Cardinal John O’Connor as being instrumental in cementing positive relations between Jews and Catholics.
“The relations today between Catholics and Jews have never been better and we stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us, who paved the way for that kind of special relationship,’’ Potasnik said.
The New York Board of Rabbis, established in 1881, says its vision is to be “the primary forum for rabbis within New York’s diverse rabbinical community … and build bridges both within the Jewish community and to other faiths.’’
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