ROME (JTA.org) – Pope Francis acknowledged Jews during the open-air Mass that formally installed him as pontiff.
Francis began his homily on Tuesday, March 19, by greeting the Catholic dignitaries and faithful in the huge crowd that crammed St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding area. He thanked “representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence.”
Among the crowd were Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni; Riccardo Pacifici, the president of the Rome Jewish community; and more than a dozen other Jewish representatives.
It is said to be the first time that Rome’s chief rabbi has attended a papal inauguration.
Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, had invited Di Segni to his inauguration on April 24, 2005, but Di Segni did not attend because it was the first day of Passover.
Benedict also singled out Jews in his welcoming remarks, greeting “with great affection … you, my brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage, one rooted in God’s irrevocable promises.”