(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, during a meeting at his Jerusalem residence with the leaders of the Catholic Church in Poland, congratulated the new Pope.
President Peres said, "The newly elected Pope represents devotion, the love of God, the love of peace, a holy modesty and a new continent which is now awakening. We need, more than ever, a spiritual leadership and not just a political one. Where political leaders may divide, spiritual leaders may unite. Unite around a vision, unite around values, unite around a faith that we can make the world a better place to live. May the Lord Bless the new Pope."
President Peres invited the new Pope to visit Israel and said, "I would like to take this opportunity to invite the newly elected Pope to pay a visit to the Holy Land at the earliest possibility. He'll be a welcome guest in the Holy Land, as a man of inspiration that can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area. All people here, without exception, without difference of religion or nationality will welcome the newly elected Pope."
Addressing relations with the Vatican President Peres said, "The relations between the Vatican and the Jewish people are now at their best in the last 2000 years and I hope they will grow in content and depths."
President Peres also spoke about the outgoing Pope and said, "I have much respect for the resigned Pope, Benedict, I found him a dear friend of our people, a profound thinker and he really contributed so much to bringing together, historically and otherwise, the relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. I'm sure that the new Pope, Francis, will continue. He will remind all of us , as a shepherd of our time, that the Lord loves the poor not only the mighty, that the Lord calls us to peace not for hatred, that the Lord calls us to serve each other, to build a world where people are together without hatred."