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Israel's Peres hails Pope Francis, invites him to Holy Land

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday welcomed the election of Pope Francis, saying he represented "holy modesty" and inviting him to visit the Holy Land.

"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," Peres said a day after the election of Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the first-ever pontiff from Latin America.

"We need, more than ever, a spiritual leadership and not just a political one," Peres said during talks with Polish Catholic clergy at his Jerusalem residence in remarks relayed by his office.

"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."

Peres also invited Francis "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," said Peres.

"All people here, without exception, without difference of religion or nationality will welcome the newly-elected pope."

The president said relations between the Vatican and Jewish people were "now at their best in the last 2,000 years, and I hope they will grow in content and depth."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130314/israels-peres-hails-pope-francis-invites-him-holy-land