On the first day of his papacy, Pope Francis reached out to Rome’s Jewish community and said he hoped to build on the good relations between the two faiths.
The city’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni has accepted the new pope’s invitation to attend his inaugural mass.
Di Segni cautiously optimistic that the Roman Catholic leadership could help in the Middle East:
“The Vatican is present in that region. It’s involved in the conflict and not as a neutral entity. But if it’s able to hold reasonable talks with a peaceful will, then it’s welcome,” Di Segni told euronews.
Just a stone’s throw from the Vatican, the Portico d’Ottavia district is at the heart of the Jewish community.
A local woman said: “Everyone has his own faith, religion and belief. But anyone can talk to the others. Of course one should have enough humility to do that.”
The Jewish community in the Italian capital is considered to play a guiding role in Catholic-Jewish relations worldwide.
Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II both made visits to Rome’s Great Synagogue.