February 28, 2014
The pope’s idea: to be accompanied by a representative from each monotheistic religion during his visit in May to the Holy Land
Pope Francis wants to be accompanied by a leading Jewish person and one Muslim on his next trip to the Holy Land. He confirmed this during a meeting with a delegation of interfaith Argentines whom he received at his residence yesterday afternoon. However, the Pope’s hope could be difficult since his visit to the Middle East will coincide with the start of week for Jews and more importantly the day of rest.
“He really has a lot of expectations for this trip: it will be a short trip and he has announced that he will be accompanied by a Jewish person and a Muslim,” the priest Guillermo Marcó told Vatican Insider, one of the presidents of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue in Argentina.
The idea, however, may pose practical difficulties. Of course, there are alternatives but, according to the announcement, the Pope’s trip will begin Saturday, May 24, the day when Jews reduce their activities in accordance with the precepts of their faith.
One of the rabbis closer to Pope Francis is Abraham Skorka who resides in Buenos Aires. Both have said they want to complete a journey to the Holy Land. But, in his last visit to Rome, Skorka was also very cautious about saying he would accompany the Pope, declaring “there is still nothing definitive.” The only way in which he could participate in the trip with the Pope is if he arrived earlier.
The Pope will stay in the Middle East for three days, visiting Jordan, Israel and Palestine. The Pope walks the path of Paul VI, the first pope in history to return to the land of Jesus (fifty years ago: between 4 and 6 January 1964). After Paul VI, John Paul II (20 to 26 March 2000) and Benedict XVI (8 to 15 May 2009) would also visit the Holy Land.
Vatican Insider, La Stampa: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/nel-mondo/dettaglio-articolo/articolo/medio-oriente-middle-east-medio-oriente-32401/