Reuters reports, Pope Francis has suggested to the Argentine people to make a contribution to the poor instead of making the trip to Rome for his inaugural Mass next week according to the Vatican on Friday. The Vatican spokesman Lombardi confirmed that the pope called the Vatican ambassador in Buenos Aires after his election confirmation that night and told him of his well wishes. Father Frederico Lombardi continued that the new pope made a similar request of his countrymen after he became pope and Argentina was facing a financial crisis. Lombardi explained,”He called the ambassador and asked him to tell the bishops that there is no need for them and the faithful to make a long, expensive trip to come to see him but that they could instead offer the money to the poor instead.” Francis will officially start his new position as pope on March 19 with a solemn Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis has always had a frugal reputation as he used public transportation as a cardinal in Argentina as well as rode the bus with his fellow cardinals even after his election as pope instead of taking the papal limo and paying the bill for his stay at the church-owned hotel.
On his papal duties so far, Pope Francis has reached out to Rome’s Jewish community promising to strengthen the bond between Catholics and Jews the Associated Press reports. Just hours after his papal election, Francis wrote to Rome’s chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni hoping to “contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics” have seen since the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council. On Friday, the Associated Press interviewed di Segni about the relationship with him simply replying that the dialogue between the two groups is complicated but with the new pope’s background “gives me trust and hope” that it will improve. Other Jewish leaders welcomed the pope’s election as he was an ally when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Francis would be a welcomed guest, while Ronald Lauder, World Jewish Congress president, said, “By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world. I am sure that Pope Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.” During his years as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the new pope tried to close the 1,000 year estrangement with the Orthodox church by reaching out to Islam and Judaism. As the Italian Rabbinical Assembly stated, “We hope that his word and his example contribute to the achievement of harmony, brotherhood and peace among all peoples.” Both of Francis’ predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, worked to reconcile the church with the Jewish community during their papacies. Lauder commented that the World Jewish Congress who represent 100 countries is convinced that Francis will “speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism both within and without the Catholic Church, that he will take action against clerics who deny or belittle the Holocaust and that he will strengthen the Vatican’s relations with Israel.”