Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, who are friends of Francis from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, will both join the papal delegation on 24-26 May 2014. It will be the first time that a rabbi and a Muslim dignitary will have done so.
Abboud is director of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, in Buenos Aires, and is a former secretary-general of the Islamic Center of Argentina. He has also worked in the slums of Buenos Aires. The interreligious institute was founded along with Daniel Goldam, a rabbi, and Father Guillermo Marco, a former spokesman of the Buenos Aires Archdiocese.
“This initiative is part of our national identity, a fruit that was eagerly cultivated by a number of leaders and religious leaders thanks to the key impulse given by the then cardinal Bergoglio to create spaces in which a culture of encounter could be built,” Abboud told Italian newspaper ‘La Stampa‘.
Abboud met with Pope Francis in February following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Argentine Jews, Christians and Muslims organized by Claudio Epelman, the executive director of the World Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress official in charge of relations with the Vatican.
Skorka is rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires.