On 20 March 2013, Pope Francis extended an olive branch and a request to the 'nones' to work together with the Catholic Church to build peace and to protect the environment.
A story filed by Religion News Service cited the Pontiff's first ecumenical meeting, where he met with leaders of the Jewish and Islamic communities. Pope Francis urged a path of ecumenical dialogue that follows the precedent set by the Second Vatican Council which convened from 1962 to 1965.
He reached out to those who are unaffiliated with a church, citing his belief that these individuals have a 'need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God.'
Referring to statements made by the recently resigned Pope Benedict XIV, Pope Francis stated that the 'attempt to eliminate God and the divine from the horizon of humanity has led to what he called 'catastrophic violence.'
Francis believes that atheists and believers can be 'precious allies, stating a focus can be placed on defending the 'dignity of man' in their efforts to,
“…defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.”
The Pontiff also pointed his belief that there is a 'very special spiritual bond' Catholics and Jews. The International Director of Iterreligious Affairs, Rabbi David Rosen agreed, sating,
“There is no doubt that Catholic-Jewish relations will go from strength to even greater strength during Pope Francis’s pontificate.”
For more information, relevant links and commentary, please refer to the story at RNS.