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Pope Francis is a ‘spiritual success’, says rabbi

Rabbi Abraham Skorka (CNS photo/David Agren)

Pope Francis is a “wonderful” leader of the Church and “a spiritual success”, an Argentine rabbi has said

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, an Argentine biophysicist and rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, made the comments at an inter-religious gathering held in Rome earlier this month. During the visit he and and more than 20 other participants, including Jews and Catholics from the United States, Italy, Argentina and Uruguay, attended the Pope’s weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square.

Rabbi Skorka told reporters after the audience that the Pope looked “very well” and was “wonderful” as Pope. The rabbi added that he was not at all surprised with the new Pontiff’s popularity.

“You can see with your own eyes the success, the spiritual success, he has achieved through his words, manners and, even, revolutionary acts,” he said.

Not only will Pope Francis continue on in the same vein, the rabbi predicted, but he will be “emphasising changes, accepting challenges more and more, undoubtedly with God’s help and God’s blessings.”

Then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Rabbi Skorka worked together for years in Argentina to bring Catholics and Jews closer together. They also bonded over a shared love of football.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, which Pope Francis oversaw, awarded Rabbi Skorka an honorary doctorate in 2012, which, the rabbi said, was a watershed moment and could never have been done just a decade before. The achievement was a “revolution” brought on specifically “by Bergoglio,” he said.

The pair co-wrote the book, On Heaven and Earth, which is a compilation of conversations between the then-cardinal and rabbi first published in Buenos Aires in 1995. They discussed pastoral views on everyday problems and offered insight into how Judaism and Catholicism answer existential questions and provide guidance to living a moral life.