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May 15, 2014 4:41 pm

Pope Francis’s Jewish Friend Set to Join Him on Israel Trip

avatar by JNS.org

Pope Francis. Photo: Casa Rosada via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgPope Francis will be joined on his upcoming trip to Israel by his close friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, as well as Argentinian Muslim leader Omar Abboud, the Vatican said.

The inclusion of the Jewish and Muslim leaders marks the first time leaders of other faiths will be included on an official papal delegation. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Pope Francis hopes to show the “normality” of having friends of other faiths, The Associated Press reported.

Skorka, whose friendship with Francis dates back to their days as the leaders of their respective communities in Argentina, last September spent several days in the Vatican together with the pope over the Sukkot holiday. The two have also authored a book together called On Heaven and Earth, which discusses Jewish and Catholic issues.

Meanwhile, the Vatican also said Pope Francis will shun the use of bulletproof vehicles known as the “Pope mobile” during his trip, and will instead use a normal car in order to be closer to the people.

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