Pope Francis does it his way.
In a complete departure from previous papal trips abroad, he is bringing two friends of other faiths along with him on his upcoming trip to the Holy Land.
Pope Francis’ longtime friends, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, a leader in Argentina’s Islamic community, will accompany him on his journey to the Holy Land later this week.
The Vatican spokesman called this a “novelty.” I think of it as a symbol of what this land of many faiths could, and hopefully one day will, be.
From The New York Daily News:
VATICAN CITY – A rabbi and a Muslim leader will join Pope Francis on his upcoming trip to the Holy Land, the first time an official papal delegation has included members of other faiths, the Vatican said Thursday.
Francis’ two longtime friends and collaborators from his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, a leader of Argentina’s Islamic community, are on the official delegation for the May 24-26 trip to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said their presence on the delegation was an “absolute novelty” desired by Francis to show the “normality” of having friends of other faiths.
Skorka and then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio together wrote “On Heaven and Earth,” which explores Jewish and Catholic perspectives on a host of issues. Abboud, meanwhile, was Bergoglio’s main Muslim interlocutor in Buenos Aires and recently participated in an Argentine interfaith pilgrimage tracing the key stops of Francis’ upcoming tour.