VATICAN CITY – A rabbi and Muslim 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 that 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.
Francis' main aim during the trip is to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic visit to Jerusalem by Pope Paul VI.