Pope Francis Will Travel to Holy Land with a Rabbi and Muslim Friend

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.

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  • FW Ken

    Brilliant. Not just a symbolic gesture, but friends.

    • pagansister


    • Gordis85

      The beauty of a friendship that respects one another, despite the naysayers.
      A fine example of harmony, despite differences.
      The joy of the common good shared among friends.
      These very examples by Papa Francis and his friends, make me very happy and truly hopeful, that there truly can be peace among us all.

      I truly wish them all a very safe and wonderful trip.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I think it is a terrible idea. I can’t even begin to say all the things that are wrong with this. It sums up all the problems I have with this Pope – mistaking niceness for policy, thinking simplicity is a merit (it is neutral at best), and ending up pleasing the worst enemies of the Church. Oh, he means well. But we shall be lucky if the results are merely negative.

    • hamiltonr

      I’m going to allow this. But be forewarned: I am not going to allow much more criticism of Pope Francis on this blog than this. There will be no long line of commentary criticizing him. He is Peter.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        I make no direct comparison, but so was Alexander Vi. Not all holders of the Chair of Peter have been worthy, and even some of the worthiest have made terrible mistakes. The ninth and tenth of the name Pius spring to mind – saintly men whose achievement in this world has been negative.

      • Sus_1

        Every time I think I can’t love this man more, he does something else that makes me explode with joy. We’re so lucky.

  • pagansister

    This man continues to impress me—what a great way to show how different faiths can get along. If he was just grabbing a couple of guys from the Jewish faith and the Islamic faith in order to make an impression, that would be, to me, seem like a “show”, but he is bringing 2 men he has known and been friends with for years. Now, if others could just be as inclusive.

  • JohnE_o

    The Pope, a Rabbi, and a Muslim fly into the Holy Land. They land at the airport in Tel Aviv and head towards the Customs desk.

    The Customs Agent looks up at three men, stares for a second and asks, “Is this a joke?”

    Also, Pope Francis is the coolest Pope ever…

  • FW Ken

    No one will see this, but it’s pretty cool. The Baptist seminary here has admitted a Muslim man into their doctoral program in archeology. It’s an exception to their rules, but the president of the seminary, an architect of the “fundamentalist takeover” of the Southern Baptist Convention, came out with a statement about how this is truly a man of peace. Friendship seems to be breaking out all over.