World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder congratulated Cardinal Jorge María Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, on his election as Pope Francis I on Wednesday.
"Pope Francis I is no stranger to us. In recent years he attended many inter-faith events co-organized by the WJC and our regional affiliate, the Latin American Jewish Congress," he wrote, adding he had met him in Buenos Aires in 2008.
Lauder praised the new pope as "an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness...a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths".
"We look forward to continuing the close relationship that has been fostered between the Catholic Church and the Jews over the past two decades."
After praising the work of Popes John Paul and Benedict for Catholic-Jewish relations, Lauder said:
"We are convinced that new pontiff will continue on this path, that he 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 relationship with Israel."
Reporting By Tom Heneghan; Editing by Michael Roddy