Jerusalem’s Christian community eagerly awaits the arrival of Pope Francis, whose pilgrimage will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras and pope Paul VI. The 1964 visit was a major step in reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which have been divided for centuries.

The pope’s whirlwind visit to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank from May 24 to 26 will include private meetings and visits to historical landmarks and religious institutions. The official delegation includes two longtime friends and partners of the pope from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, leader of Argentina’s Muslim community. The participation of these two religious leaders sends a strong message about the importance of interreligious dialogue in a region that is often defined by conflict.

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