Jewish and Muslim leaders to join Pope’s Holy Land trip

(L-R) Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, who will travel to the Holy Land with Pope Francis May 24-26. Credit: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

A rabbi and a sheikh, both of whom are friends of Jorge Bergoglio from Buenos Aires, will be accompanying him on his pilgrimage to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel later this month.

Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, who have been participants in interreligious dialogue with the Pope, will both join the May 24-26 trip, marking the first time that a rabbi and a Muslim dignitary will have done so.

The pilgrimage will focus on the encounter between the Bishop of Rome and Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Eastern Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople.

On the other hand, the dialogue among the three faiths that share Jerusalem as a holy city will be of crucial importance, and this is the reason why Pope Francis wanted to be accompanied by Skorka and Abboud.

Abboud is director of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, in Buenos Aires, and is a former secretary-general of the Islamic Center of Argentina. He has also worked in the slums of Buenos Aires.

The interreligious institute was founded along with Daniel Goldam, a rabbi, and Fr. Guillermo Marco, former spokesman of the Buenos Aires archdiocese.

“This initiative is part of our national identity, a fruit that was eagerly cultivated by a number of leaders and religious leaders thanks to the key impulse given by the then cardinal Bergoglio to create spaces in which a culture of encounter could be built,” Abboud told Italian daily La Stampa May 3.

Abboud visited Pope Francis in February after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem that gathered Catholics, Muslims, and Jews.

Skorka is rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, and often met to converse with Bergoglio; those meetings produced the book “On Heaven and Earth,” a record of their dialogue.

He visited Pope Francis in June at Castel Gandolfo, together with participants in a Jewish-Christian dialogue organized by the Focolare Movement; and also in January.

“Our idea is to make a contribution to what dialogue means, to what spirituality means, and what the things of the soul mean, as well as the search for God,” Skorka told La Stampa Jan. 17.

The three religious leaders will arrive in Amman, the Jordanian capital, May 24 and pay a courtesy visit to the nation's king and queen; Pope Francis will later address national authorities.

That afternoon he will say Mass, then visit Bethany beyond the Jordan, the site where John the Baptist was baptizing. There, Pope Francis will address refugees and the physically disabled.

The following day, Pope Francis will travel to Palestine to visit Bethlehem, meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, saying Mass, and praying the Regina Caeli.

He will lunch with Palestinian families at the Franciscan convent of Casa Nova, and then make a private visit to the grotto of the nativity. After this, he will be greeted by refugee children, and then depart by helicopter for Israel.

He will meet in private with Patriarch; the two will sign a joint declaration, after which there will be a public ecumenical meeting at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

On May 26, Pope Francis will meet Jerusalem's Grand Mufti, the Sunni cleric entrusted with the city's Muslim holy places.

He will then visit the Western Wall and lay a wreath at Mount Herzl, the site of Israel's national cemetery, and then make a discourse at Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial of the Holocaust, and meet with Jerusalem's chief rabbis.

In the afternoon he will meet in private with Patriarch Bartholomew, aside the Orthodox parish on the Mount of Olives, after which he will meet with priests, religious, and seminarians at the church of Gethsemane.

Pope Francis will say Mass with the ordinaries of the Holy Land and the Papal suite at the Cenacle, and he will preach at the Mass.

In the evening, he will fly from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, say farewell to Israel, and return to Rome.


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Events

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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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