During a meeting with the leaders of the Catholic Church in Poland at his Jerusalem residence Thursday, President Shimon Peres congratulated the new pope on being chosen for the office. “The newly elected Pope represents devotion, the love of G-d, the love of peace, a modesty, and a new continent which is now awakening,” Peres said.
“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."
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, Peres said that "relations between the Vatican and the Jewish people are now at their best in the last 2,000 years and I hope they will grow in content and depths.”
Peres also spoke about the outgoing Pope. "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,” Peres said.