(JTA) — A Swiss bishop has been named to head the Vatican office that deals with relations with the Jewish community.
Archbishop Kurt Koch will lead the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and its Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. He succeeds Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is retiring,
Koch has served as a member of the pontifical council for eight years.
Catholic-Jewish relations have improved markedly in the past half-century.
B’nai B’rith International welcomed Koch’s appointment.
In a letter to Koch, B’nai B’rith President Dennis Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel Mariaschin noted that their organization has "been especially committed to the development of genuine friendship between Christians and Jews. In particular, through both ongoing dialogue and practical cooperation at all levels, and with clergy as well as laity, we have maintained Catholic-Jewish engagement as a foremost imperative."