Posts Tagged ‘pope francis’

Evangelical Church Takes Another Big Step Toward Rome—This Time? Franklin Graham

Editor’s Note: As we continue on with our coverage regarding evangelical leaders and their ecumenical moves toward Roman Catholicism, we once again wish to state that we bear no animosity toward individual Catholics, but we are compelled to challenge these leaders on their compromise of the Christian faith according to Scripture.


As Lighthouse Trails has been reporting on over the past number of months, evangelical church leaders are coming out of the woodwork like never before in showing their willingness to unite with and give credibility to the Catholic Church.

In March of this year, we posted Roger Oakland’s report on charismatic leader Kenneth Copeland’s open embracing of the Roman Catholic church (see “The Unification of Hyper-Charismatics and the Catholic Church”). In that article, Oakland stated:

[H]ow close we are to the unification of Rome with “Charismatic evangelicals” and eventually all religions. This is something that Understand The Times has been predicting for some years as the present Pope Francis and the last two Popes, Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul, have been active in promoting the New Evangelization.

The purpose of the New Evangelization is to promote the Roman Catholic gospel by reaching out to all religions as well as the separated brethren and introducing them to the Eucharistic Christ.

Oakland’s report includes a video clip of Kenneth Copeland and Tony Palmer (an evangelical “evangelist” for the Catholic Church who was recently killed in a motorcycle accident). This video is worth watching and will help show how far the evangelical church has gone on the road to Rome. In the video, Palmer who was speaking at Copeland’s church told the congregation that he was coming in “the spirit of Elijah” similar to that of John the Baptist. As you watch this video, you will see that the “spirit” in which Palmer was coming was what he called “reconciliation” (meaning Protestants reconciling with the “Mother” church). Incidentally, Catholic priest Henri Nouwen put much emphasis on this type of “reconciliation,” and as Ray Yungen showed in A Time of Departing, Nouwen used the means of contemplative mysticism to remove the walls between biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism.

Also in March, we posted a short piece titled “A Picture Says a Thousand Words,” which showed a banner from Ambrose University that stated “Catholics and Evangelicals in God’s Mission Together” (just one of many examples where Christian colleges are showing an affinity with Roman Catholicism.

Back in February of this year, we posted “A Word of Caution: Ecumenical-Backed Movie, “Son of God,” May Send Subtle New Age/Roman Catholic Messages.”  We issued this warning about the Son of God movie because of the New Age/Roman Catholic influence that the producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey would have on the making of the film. In fact, Downey stated clearly that her intention in making the movie was to “bring people together.”1 We know that means to break down the barriers between Christianity and Catholicism. And yet, many popular evangelical leaders gave raving endorsements of the film (e.g., Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Erwin McManus, Pat Robertson, Luis Palau, and others).

Took place at Moody Bible Institute

Last December, Moody Bible Institute showed its favor toward Rome, which you can read about in our article “Embracing Contemplative Shows Ill Effects at Moody Bible Institute in Ecumenical “Road to Rome” Event.” This photo to the left shows some of those who were involved with the event. While it was a student-led event, a professor from Moody helped to moderate it (interesting because he is a convert from Catholicism to Protestantism).

Then in May of this year, we posted Roger Oakland’s 5-part series on Rick Warren’s interview on a Catholic television network where Warren admitted: he is influenced by Catholic mystics, calls Pope Francis “our Pope,” and tells how he and his wife Kay turn to Catholic ceremonies for comfort and encouragement.

Most recently, in August of this year, we posted “Is Beth Moore’s “Spiritual Awakening” Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome?” making a number of different points to show that Beth Moore is showing more and more signs of heading toward Rome including a video where she illustrates on stage that she considers Roman Catholicism on par with Protestant Christianity. That article also showed James Robison’s strong propensity toward Roman Catholicism.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM

Franklin Graham

Now, Lighthouse Trails has learned that at the August 15-17 2014  gathering called “Three Rivers Festival of Hope” in Pittsburgh, PA, Franklin Graham (who led and organized the event) brought in Catholic Bishop David Zubik to give the opening prayer on stage with the large audience. During the bishop’s prayer, he acknowledged his belief that Protestants and Catholics are all part of the same church. While Graham’s public stand against homosexual marriage and his work to help the poor and needy is commendable, his giving a thumbs up to Roman Catholicism is moving the church closer and closer to complete apostasy. While we know that Graham’s father, Billy Graham, allowed Catholic counselors at his own crusade meetings (which sadly set a precedent), it’s a big jump to give a Catholic priest the platform at an evangelical event to lead in an ecumenical prayer that puts Catholicism on par with Protestant Christianity.

In a newspaper article advertising the Franklin Graham event, it states:

Catholic Bishop David Zubik

Bishop David Zubik said the festival dovetails with calls by recent popes to a “new evangelization,” bringing back cradle Catholics who drifted or became estranged from the faith.

“We felt as long as there was a Catholic component to this particular crusade, we wanted to be a part of it,” Bishop Zubik said.

Those who respond to Rev. Graham’s invitation to make a decision for Christ, and who identify as Catholic, will be given the opportunity to go to Epiphany Church — adjacent to the Consol Energy Center — for the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession.

“We’re right next door,” Bishop Zubik said.

Bishop Zubik said Catholics don’t share all of Rev. Graham’s controversial political statements but added: “That’s not what this is all about. The whole point is to bring people back to Jesus.” (source)

The question we have at Lighthouse Trails is, which Jesus is Franklin Graham sending these people to when he sends them to the Catholic Church for the sacrament? We believe the answer to that is “another” Jesus as the Bible warns will happen (2 Corinthians 11:4).

According to one article, nearly 26,000 people showed up to the Graham revival meeting with around 1700 coming forth to commit or recommit their lives to Jesus.

In an article written by Bishop Zubik titled “The Church Evangelizing!,” Zubik expresses his support for the papacy’s “New Evangelization” program that Roger Oakland has warned about in his books Another Jesus: the new evangelization and the eucharist christ and Faith Undone. In the article by Zubik, he states: “As Catholics, we invite others ‘to come to Jesus’ not only at events in stadiums, but to come to Him in the sacraments, most especially the Eucharist” (p. 8). Ironically, the Catholic Church as a whole holds the official position of “closed communion,” which means that only converts to Catholicism can legitimately partake in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Many evangelicals do not understand what the Catholic church teaches about the “sacraments” and the “Eucharist.” They do not realize that the Catholic belief is that Jesus Christ is actually in the wafer and his blood in the wine, and this “transubstantiation” takes place only when a Catholic priest prays over the bread and the wine. This continual re-crucifying of Christ is the benchmark of Catholic Church doctrine to the point of martyring those who would not accept that Jesus Christ was in a wafer (see Foxe’s story about a woman who was burned at the stake for refusing to accept the Catholic belief on the Eucharist.)

This woman, Mrs. Prest, gave up her life because she understood that the Catholic “Gospel” is a religion of works based on participation in the Eucharist and the other sacraments. According to Catholic doctrine, salvation is never certain because it is based on earning something that was meant to be free as opposed to the clear statement of the Bible that we can have full assurance of salvation in that it is based on grace through faith alone in the perfect, one-time sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The Christian Gospel cannot be reconciled with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but many are deceived into thinking they are one and the same thing merely because they are both focused on the Cross. But a gift that is earned is no longer a gift; in short, the free gift of salvation has been rendered useless by turning it back into a system of works. If you have not read Roger Oakland’s article and booklet The New Evangelization From Rome: Finding the True Jesus Christ, we urge you to do so as it lays out the Bible Gospel versus the Catholic “Gospel.”

The man with the Mary statue at the Franklin Graham crusade

The man with the Mary statue at the Franklin Graham crusade

Another aspect of the Catholic “Gospel” that shouldn’t be ignored can be seen on an interesting video (see video) on YouTube of a man who is being interviewed who tried to go into the Franklin Graham meeting but was denied access because he was carrying a statue of Mary, and security guards would not allow him to bring the statue in. What is worth noting is that this Catholic man states that the way to truly know God or Jesus is through Mary and that she will actually even usher in world peace and the second coming of Christ.

Frankly, what is the point of keeping a statue of Mary out of the Graham crusade but allowing a Catholic bishop to give the opening prayer? Perhaps Franklin Graham does not realize that embracing Catholicism cannot be a smorgasbord where you pick and choose which elements you want. Catholicism has a whole plethora of anathemas for those who differ on various  unscriptural doctrinal points.

Lest you think that the Catholic Church’s “New Evangelization” program is only trying to reach “backslidden” Catholics, we need to ask the question, Who is the Catholic Church’s “New Evangelization” program trying to reach? The answer: Everyone! As Bishop Zubik states in his article: “Pope Francis has made it clear that our witness [for the Catholic Church] must be to and for everyone—to each other as fellow Catholics, active or not, as well as to other Christians, to non-Christians and to nonbelievers.”

CONCLUSION

While we believe that at least part of the motivation for these evangelical leaders to join forces with the Catholic church is politically and morally motivated to “help bring America back to God,” we believe this unifying for the sake of political and moral issues is going to backfire on the evangelical church as the Catholic papacy and leadership (including the Jesuits) are using these issues to “bring back the lost brethren to the Mother Church.” And the question that must be asked is, if this united ecumenical body of evangelicals and Catholics is successful in bringing in a new White House administration that holds to traditional moral values, will the compromise of Christian faith by evangelicals be able to be reversed and separation of the two different belief systems be restored? Not likely considering the level of spiritual deception the evangelical church is at today. In essence, a paradigm shift has already taken place. And what will happen if the ecumenical evangelical/Catholic effort is unsuccessful in bringing in a morally conservative White House administration in the next election in 2016? We can be sure that the now-very-blurred lines that have in the past distinguished evangelical Christianity from other belief systems will erode all together because unrepentant compromise never produces good fruit but only leads to further compromise. Rather, the foothold that Satan presently has will throw the door wide open for the making of a totally corrupt and apostate church.

For those evangelical/Protestants who believe we have much in common with the Catholic Church and can unify with it, consider these statements, which Warren B. Smith cited in his book “Another Jesus” Calling. They are taken from the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is the official source for all Roman Catholic doctrine today. After reading these quotes, can any Bible-believing Christian say they share the same faith as Roman Catholicism?:

“Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ.” (#795)

“For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” (#460)

“The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” (#460)

Finally, what is it that we as Christians should hope for? For those who hope to see the church at large turn around from the apostasy that is upon her, there will be great disappointment. The Bible indicates such a falling away is going to happen. Our purpose should not be to hope that all of this will turn around but rather that those who have ears to hear and eyes to see will comprehend the times in which we live and remain steadfast in the faith and to the truth of the Gospel, which God has committed to us.

For biblical believers in Jesus Christ who see this taking place and refuse to become part of this apostasy, they will find themselves on the outside looking in, but when that day comes (and it’s not far off), it will be the safest place to be.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.(1 Corinthians 15:58)

Is Beth Moore’s “Spiritual Awakening” Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome?

Editor’s Note: Lighthouse Trails bears no animosity toward Catholics. We have a genuine love and concern for them. However, we are obliged to speak up about the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially as we witness the “emerging” of Protestantism and Catholicism, which is taking place via Christian leaders today.


Thomas Merton

Anyone who has studied contemplative spirituality from a critical and biblical point of view for any length of time knows that those who practice contemplative prayer eventually begin to have propensities toward Catholicism. That makes sense given that the mystical prayer practice came out of the Roman Catholic monasteries (via Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, etc) and dates back as far as the ancient Catholic desert fathers.  And it is a fact that the Catholic church is using contemplative prayer to “bring back the lost brethren to the Mother church.” In one article written by Ray Yungen titled “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion,”  Yungen states:

I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion.

If it is indeed true that practicing contemplative prayer can turn one’s eyes toward Romish thoughts and beliefs, then it would make sense that Bible-believing Christians would be greatly concerned about popular evangelical leaders who are promoting contemplative spirituality. One of those leaders (in fact the most popular Bible study leader in America according to a Christianity Today article), Beth Moore, has been a contemplative advocate for some time as we document in our 2008 article “Why We Say Beth Moore is a Contemplative Advocate.” And it isn’t just Lighthouse Trails who is saying that Beth Moore is connected to contemplative prayer. In fact, in 2010, Christianity Today came out with a cover story about Beth Moore and identified her as part of the contemplative prayer movement. So this point is really beyond debate. Moore’s own ministry has even admitted that they see nothing wrong with contemplative spirituality ala Richard Foster as we showed in our 2008 article (see link above).

Pope Francis with several evangelical leaders including James Robison, Tony Palmer, and Kenneth Copeland

With that said, we know that Beth Moore has been influenced strongly by Catholic contemplative mystic the late Brennan Manning as she admits in her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Moore has also been a regular guest on James and Betty Robison’s show for a number of years now. The Robison’s have made statements in  that show their comradeship to the Catholic church. For instance, in a May 2014 article written by James Robison on his website titled “Pope Francis on Life Today,” Robison states:

I believe in the importance of unity among those who know Christ, who profess to be “Christians.” . . .  I believe there is an important spiritual awakening beginning in the hearts of those truly committed to Christ in the Protestant and Catholic communities. Is it possible that Pope Francis may prove to be an answer not only to the prayers of Catholics, but also those known as Protestants?

In that article by Robison, he made a reference to the recently deceased Anglican recruiter for the Catholic church, Tony Palmer. Robison stated: “One of his [the Pope] very best friends, Bishop Tony Palmer, whom we have supported in mission outreaches for years, shares the message that Pope Francis asked him to deliver to evangelicals and protestant believers” (emphasis added). In an article titled, “Protestants Who Don’t Unite With Catholics are Guilty of “Spiritual Racism” by Lighthouse Trails author, John Lanagan, Lanagan stated that Tony Palmer  “claims he has been “consecrated” by Pope Francis to be a bridge for further unity among Protestants and Catholics.” Lanagan posted a video (see below) of Palmer  wherein Palmer stated, “[t]he protest of Luther is over. And therefore now we are all living in a post-Protestant era…” (8:00 in video) and “The Protestants who disagree are suffering from “spiritual racism.” (8:40) Palmer, who claimed Pope Francis was his mentor, died a few weeks ago in a motorcycle accident.

 

“Spiritual awakening” is becoming a “mantra” within evangelical Christianity. Terms like One, Awaken, Awake, Great Awakening, Spiritual Awakening, are being broadcasted throughout Christianity today. While it is a good thing to desire true repentance and revival, how can leaders who embrace a mystical spirituality and who don’t understand spiritual deception (and are even participating in spiritual deception) help bring about true revival?

Beth Moore spoke at Robison’s  Awake Now Conference in February of 2014, and she expressed her belief that God showed her there was a great spiritual awakening coming. Interestingly, Moore warned that audience of over 4000 people about those who would question this great awakening and “downpour”:

But we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I will say that again. We must be prepared in advance for scoffers. And here’s the thing. The unbelieving world scoffing is not going to bother us that much. We’re used to them thinking that we are idiots. Can we just own that one? We’re used to it. Of course, they think that. We’ve got that one down. That’s not what’s going to bother us so much. What’s going to bother us, and I believe God is saying, “Get prepared for it so you know in advance it is coming” so when it does happen you’re not all disturbed and all rocked by it because it is going to come from some in our own Christian realm — our own brothers and sisters. We’re going to have people that are honestly going to want to debate and argue with us about awakening and downpours. What do you want here? They’re going to say, that’s not the way it should look. You know what, dude? I’m just asking you, are you thirsty?

Are you hungry? I can’t think of the way to the semantics to get it like you want it. But I will say to you, I’m just thirsty and I’m hungry. But there will be scoffers and they will be the far bigger threat, the one within our own brothers and sisters, our own family of God — far, far more demoralizing. And yes, it will come from bullies, and yes, it will come from the mean-spirited.

By saying these things, Beth Moore is setting the stage to marginalize discerning Christians who would question this great “spiritual awakening.” This is typical of a hyper-charismatic/Word of Faith mentality that teaches it is wrong to question a supposed move of God. It is also similar to New Age teachings that call “scoffers” a cancer that must be eliminated or Rick Warren’s teachings on how to deal with “resisters.” In other words, no one should dare challenge the leaders of this coming spiritual awakening.

An important question to ask is, does Beth Moore have the same propensities as James Robison when it comes to unity with the Catholic church to help bring about a great awakening? We believe the answer to that is “Yes!” We believe that partly because of her contemplative affinities; but also, take a look at this video clip of Moore where she identifies the Catholic Church as part of the community of Christian churches. As you watch this video, keep in mind how contemplatives become more and more ecumenical and interspiritual the longer they are engaged in contemplative spirituality.

Evangelical leaders are praying for a great spiritual awakening, and many, such as Moore, are predicting that it is coming. But as we asked when we wrote our analysis of Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger, what will such an awakening or revival look like? In our article, we stated the following:

We were trying to picture what America’s repentance might look like. We got a taste of it right after 9/11 when we witnessed a rallying call to an ecumenical interfaith patriotism; and as a result, America remained proud but there was no true repentance. So, given the state of the nation today, here is a list of what we can envision our national repentance might look like:

A Purpose Driven 40 Days of Repentance

or . . .

The Jonah Plan: Repent in 40 Days — with invitations for New Age speakers to come and instruct the church on how to repent.

A National Day of Mourning over our “Sins” as a Nation — where Buddhist monks, Muslims, Evangelicals, and Catholics will flock together to ask God for forgiveness for not being more united to the universal God.

A World-Wide Contemplative-Prayer Repentance Day — where all the major Christian leaders now promoting contemplative prayer will rally together with New Agers and Buddhists alike to meditate world-wide on that day, in “vibrationally sympathetic harmony,” in order to experience true “Oneness” with mankind, creation, and the god in all.

And we add to that list of pseudo-revivals a Beth Moore/James Robison kind of spiritual awakening that will include Pope Francis and the Catholic Church.

If this supposed coming awakening lines up with those who will be leading it, (e.g., Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Beth Moore, Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Ruth Haley Barton, etc.),  then it will be an ecumenical, mystical move toward unity with not just the Roman Catholic church but with all faiths, and in order to bring about this kind of awakening, millions of people will have to go along with it.

While Beth Moore and other Christian leaders are closing the gap between Christianity and Catholicism, we should remember the saints who went before us and who paid with their blood when they stood faithfully for the Gospel and would not bend to the demands of the papacy (see Foxe’s story of Mrs. Prest as an example).


Note: So many Christians do not understand what the Catholic church teaches. Even many Catholics do not understand. If you have not read Roger Oakland’s book Another Jesus: the eucharistic christ and the new evangelization, it is imperative to understand why biblical Christianity is not equivalent to Roman Catholicism. To help make sure that all of our readers have a copy of this vital book, for the next few days, our bookstore will offer it for 75% off retail. This will make it $3.23 instead of $12.95 (plus shipping).  Use this code: AJ-75 to get that discount (will expire 8/18).

Related Articles:

New Spirituality for an Awakening Planet? by Berit Kjos

How the “Quantum Christ” (God is in everything) is Transforming the World . . . and Entering the Church!  by Warren B. Smith

News in Review with Understand the Times

Tony Palmer, who captured Pope Francis’ bid for Christian unity with a cellphone, dies after motorcycle crash

LTRP Note: The following article is posted for research and informational purposes and not as an endorsement for the news source or content. Please see our related articles below.

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Religious News Service

(RNS) Bishop Tony Palmer, a charismatic preacher who used a cellphone camera to record Pope Francis issuing an appeal for Christian unity between Catholics and evangelicals, died Sunday (July 20) after a motorcycle crash in the United Kingdom.Bishop Tony Palmer died on July 20, 2014, after a motorcycle accident.

In January, Palmer held the smartphone that recorded Pope Francis calling on all Christians to set aside their differences. Palmer, a bishop and international ecumenical officer with the independent Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, also helped coordinate the pope’s meeting with televangelists in June.

In the video, Pope Francis referred to Palmer as “my brother, a bishop-brother,” saying they had been friends for years. “Let us allow our longing to increase so that it propels us to find each other, embrace each other and to praise Jesus Christ as the only Lord of history,” Francis said.

Born in the U.K. and raised partly in South Africa, Palmer had served as the director of the South Africa office of Kenneth Copeland Ministries. On Copeland’s website, Palmer said he had met Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires (now Pope Francis) in 2008 when Palmer sought permission to work with charismatic Catholics in the city.

In a February blog post for Patheos, Anglican-turned-Catholic priest the Rev. Dwight Longenecker focused on Palmer as representing something new in Anglicanism, especially for Palmer’s involvement in the Convergent Movement, a charismatic Anglican group that ordains women as deacons and priests. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Protestants Who Don’t Unite With Catholics are Guilty of “Spiritual Racism”

TV Preachers [Copeland, Robison] Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’

 

 

TV Preachers [Copeland, Robison] Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’

By Garrett Haley
Christian News Network

Meeting with the PopeROME – Two controversial TV preachers recently met Pope Francis in an effort to work toward tearing down the ‘walls of division’ between Catholics and Protestants.

Kenneth Copeland and James Robison are two religious leaders in northeast Texas known for drawing huge crowds to their services and events, and who were a part of leading the group identifying as a “delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders” in its meeting with the Roman Catholic pontiff late last month.

Copeland heads Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Eagle Mountain International Church, while Robison is an “apostolic elder” at Gateway Church and co-hosts the Life Today TV program.

In 2008, CBS News released a detailed report on Kenneth Copeland Ministries, saying an investigation “raises serious questions about the Copeland’s religious empire.” For example, according to the report, the “ministry” operates private jets which are often used for vacation trips. Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Protestants Who Don’t Unite With Catholics are Guilty of “Spiritual Racism”

Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization

Related Video: (Tony Palmer, Kenneth Copeland, and the Pope)

Queen of All

Instagram style image of a neon Virgin MaryBy Roger Oakland

It was a highly newsworthy item. Secular news agencies around the world reported on this very religious matter. A rift between Roman Catholics and Anglicans was soon to come to an end.

A document titled Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ was finally published after six years of discussion. Centuries of Anglican dissent over the Roman Catholic view of Mary would soon be history. According to an article titled “Anglicans invited to take Catholic view of Mary,” a major step towards reunion with the Mother of All Churches was about to be accomplished. Quoting from the document:

“There is no continuing theological reason for ecclesial division” over the role of the Virgin Mary. “We do not consider the practice of asking Mary and the saints to pray for us as communion dividing,” it says. The document also describes private devotions inspired by apparitions of Mary as “acceptable” [1]

But there was more. The document stated that the infallible dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption – the teachings that Mary was herself conceived “without sin” and that on death she was “assumed” body and soul into Heaven – are consistent with the teachings of Scripture. [2] Click here to continue reading.

Pope Francis will take rabbi and Muslim leader with him to Holy Land

By Josephine McKenna
Religious News Service

Pope Francis greets people during a meeting with UNITALSI, an Italian Catholic association for the transportation of sick people to Lourdes and other Marian shrines, in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on Saturday (Nov. 9). Photo by Alessia Giuliani, courtesy Catholic News ServiceVATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis will be accompanied on his first visit to the Middle East by Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud — two friends from Buenos Aires.

It is the first time a pope has made an official visit accompanied by members of other faiths, and it underscores the interfaith focus of Francis’ trip to the Holy Land, the Vatican said Thursday (May 15).

“This dimension of interreligious dialogue has great significance,” the Vatican’s official spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told the media.

Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and Abboud, president of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue in Buenos Aires, are part of the official delegation for the May 24-26 trip, which will include Jordan, the West Bank and Israel. Click here to continue reading.


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