GREEN BAY - As the cardinals start the process to elect the next pope, how do other faiths perceive the change?
Electing the leader of a faith with about 1.2 billion followers is a big deal. And that's coming from a rabbi.
"I am very struck by the holiness of the whole episode," said Rabbi Shaina Bacharach.
Bacharach is watching what happens in Vatican City.
Leader of Green Bay's Conservative Judaism synagogue Cnesses Israel, Bacharach says the election of a new pope means a lot, and not just for Catholics.
"This is an important world event. The pope does make a difference in relations between peoples," said Rabbi Bacharach.
Bacharach hopes that once a new pope is chosen, the good relationships between Jews and Catholics continue.
The wonderful discussions, the closeness, the fact we remember what unites us more than what divides us," Bacharach said.
"While we don't have all of the same testimonies of faith, that we indeed are patrons in ministry and mission," said Rev. James Justman.
Justman is a bishop for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He says the past points of contention between Lutherans and Catholics have virtually disappeared.
"I think that spirit of competition is almost dead," said Justman. "I think people look to us and say, ‘How are you going to proclaim this message together?' Not how are you going to compete."
Justman says the open dialogue the Lutheran Church has had with the Catholic Church is something to be proud of and prays it will continue.
"This is just another exciting time and we're waiting as well as they are," said Justman.
As for Bacharach, she does have a non faith-based interest in who is selected as the next pope.
"As a Jew, as anybody, we have no right to impose our decisions...But as an American, it's hard to not root for the Americans," said Bacharach.
Another challenging task facing the new pope will be navigating the church's relations with Islam.
The church faced fallout after Pope Benedict gave a 2006 speech citing a Byzantine emperor who criticized the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Benedict did make efforts to mend those broken fences.
FOX 11 was unable to speak with local Islamic leaders Tuesday.
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