Living together in the Vatican Guest House they have shared meals and discussed what more they can do together to promote dialogue and peace in the world. One plan is to travel together to Israel/Palestine next year. Both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities have invited Pope Francis, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew1, wants the Pope to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting of his predecessor, Athenagoras, with Paul VI in Jerusalem. The Vatican has now announced that this visit will take place in March 2014.
Rabbi Skorka has described the experience of visiting Francis:
“I eat with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to makes sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition. These are festive days, and I have to say certain prayers at meals and, I expand the last prayer and translate it. He accompanies me together with the others at table -his secretaries and a bishop, and they all say ‘Amen’ at the end”.
We are dreaming of traveling together to Israel soon, and the Pope is working on this subject”, the Rabbi said. “I dream of embracing him at the Kotel, or Wailing Wall, and I will accompany him to Bethlehem, in the Palestinian territories. His presence can help a lot at this moment when the peace talks are starting again”, he added
The Vatican report said that by acting in this way, the Pope and Rabbi are sending an extraordinary message of friendship, dialogue and peace not only to their respective religious communities but also to the whole world. How I would love them to be accompanied by such great figures as the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Chi, Desmond Tutu for example - what a witness for peace that would be.
Though not quite in the same vein another first is the discussion about a joint Jewish - Catholic campus for two primary schools in East Renfrewshire. The discussions are at a very early stage and both schools would have their own ethos, administration etc but sharing a campus would surely mean cooperation and dialogue between both staff and pupils.
All of this is good news for a world hungry for it.