Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is a Jesuit Pope Good for the Jews?

In this Dec. 12, 2012, picture provided by the NCI-Emanue El, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), lights the menorah during Hanukkah celebrations in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At left is Rabbi Sergio Bergman, and at right is Rabbi Alejandro Avruj. (NCI-Emanu El/AP)

The Jesuits’ history with the Jews has been rocky, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the ascent of Francis.

Yet surely the election of a pope must also have implications for the Jews—or so we Jews are accustomed to thinking. In this case, it happens to be true. Throughout history, the Jesuits’ relationship with the Jews has been anything but smooth sailing. And yet, in recent decades we have seen a completely new attitude—so much so that Jews should be celebrating the ascent of Francis, who has had close ties with the Jewish community of Argentina, where he has attended synagogue and co-authored a book with an Argentinian rabbi.

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