VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis is shunning bulletproof vehicles during his trip to the Middle East this month, insisting that he use a normal car and be allowed to be as close to people as possible, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The Vatican, briefing reporters on the trip, also confirmed that a rabbi and an Islamic leader will accompany Pope Francis on his trip to the Middle East in a gesture of the importance he attaches to inter-religious dialogue.

Francis will visit Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel during the May 24-26 trip, his first as pope to the region.


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