(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has met with 45 important interfaith leaders from Argentina who have just returned from the Holy Land, which the Pontiff himself is due to visit May 24-26. Thursday’s meeting in the Santa Marta guesthouse included 15 Jews, 15 Muslims and 15 Catholics. Their trip covered many of the stops which the Holy Father is expected to visit during his brief pilgrimage to Jordan , Israel and Palestine. The group met leading political and religious authorities and visited the holy sites of the three monotheistic religions.
According to a report in the Vatican paper, L’Osservatore Romano, many members of the group, which included several rabbis, imams and priests, have known the Pope since he was Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires. They had collaborated with him in inter-religious dialogue and worked with him on a number of joint social and charitable projects aimed at helping people in difficult situations.
The group said they wanted to express their friendship and spiritual closeness to the Pope by ending their pilgrimage in Rome so they could meet with the Holy Father offer him their best wishes for his ministry and for his own upcoming trip to the Holy Land.
The hour-long meeting in the Vatican was described as one of “great cordiality” and was also attended by Cardinals Kurt Koch, President of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews , and Jean -Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue .
Text from Vatican Radio website