Pope Francis election a positive for ecumenism

Leaders of Muslim, Jewish and other non-Catholic faiths are welcoming the election of Pope Francis, many expect improved interfaith relation.

In an unprecedented event, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, will also attend Pope Francis’ installation Mass in Rome March 19.

The appearance by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the “first among equals” of all the world’s Orthodox leaders, is an unprecedented gesture.

The Patriarch of Constantinople has not attended a papal installation since 1054, when Constantinople split from Rome.

Justin Welby, the new leader of the world’s Anglicans, said he was looking forward to “working together” with the new pope.

As a cardinal in Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio had warm ties with rabbis. One referred to the new pope as “my rabbi.”

Early in Pope Benedict’s papacy, he sparked anger across the Muslim world when he cited a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought things that were “evil and inhuman.”

Omar Shahin, the secretary general of the North American Imams Federation, said, “It was a very bad start, and, because of this speech, people stopped all interfaith dialogue.”

Benedict later apologized saying the emperor’s views weren’t his own.

Benedict also angered Jews when he revoked the ex-communication of ultra-conservative St Pius XI Bishop Williamson who denied the Holocaust.


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