Interfaith Leaders see hope in Pope Francis

Thomas Schirrmacher, an official with the World Evangelical Alliance wrote in the Christian Post that under Pope Francis evangelicals “can hope for the continuation of truly fair and honest theological discussions of both our differences and commonalities.”

Schirrmacher said that at the Synod of Bishops last year, he got to know Pope Francis “as a modest, humble, and friendly man.”

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, also congratulated Pope Francis and commended his choice of name.

“Francis recalls the famous saint of the Catholic Church, an example of sacrificial devotion to the suffering people and of zealous preaching of the Gospel. This is seen your desire to continue to care for the poor and the suffering, which you have expressed compassion and love for many years of your service in Argentina,” he said.

“The same service is now a priority for the Russian Orthodox Church, which opens the possibility for co-operation and interaction with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Sending his “best wishes for peace” to Pope Francis, Patriarch Kirill also expressed a hope for a continued positive relationship between their Churches, as well as cooperation in promoting strong morals.

On March 14, Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Oriental Orthodox Church, congratulated Pope Francis, noting that “we fondly remember our meetings and prayers together with Your Holiness in Argentina, during which we came to know you as a good shepherd, and a courageous, wise, and just Church Leader.”

Karekin II wrote that he prays for continued growth in cooperation between his Church and the Catholic Church.

Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican Communion, said, “May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world.”

“Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows,” he added.

Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, sent Pope Francis his “best wishes” that he might “guide with strength and wisdom the Catholic Church for the coming years.”

“Pope Francis has demonstrated his profound solidarity with the Jewish community in Argentina in both times of sorrow and joy,” added the American Jewish Committee. “We look forward to continued close collaboration with the Catholic Church under his leadership as we have been privileged to enjoy with his predecessors.”

After the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was reportedly among the first to condemn the attack.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said Pope Francis “always had an open ear for our concerns.”

“I am sure that Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths,” he continued.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations congratulated the Pope and offered “the Muslim community’s support and cooperation in every positive effort he will undertake for peace, justice and the betterment of humanity.”

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation noted Pope Francis’ “legacy as champion of the poor and the most vulnerable” and as someone who “brings to us all the tidings of a better and more peaceful world.”

Satpal Singh, a chairman of the World Sikh Council, sent “prayerful felicitations to the new Pope and to the Catholic world.”

He continued, “we hold His Holiness Pope Francis in prayers and look forward to his stewardship of the Catholic Church, and to his contribution to the world towards a path of ‘love and fraternity’ as he puts it.”

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