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September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
27 May 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis embraces Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina, after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on 26 May. The pope's message left at the Wall contained the text of the Our Father and of the 122nd Psalm, traditionally prayed by Jewish pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem.(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Among the many memorable moments from the pope’s trip, a standout was the one shown above. CNS’s Cindy Wooden took note:

In a Holy Land pilgrimage filled with emotion, the embrace of Pope Francis, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud this morning was powerful. Even at a distance of more than 1,400 miles, (thanks to the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio) viewers could read in that embrace a sense of “we are actually here; it really happened.”

The embrace, complete with tears, came after Pope Francis visited Jerusalem’s grand mufti and other Muslim leaders near the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque and then prayed at the Western Wall.

The two holy sites make up what is probably the most contested piece of real estate in the world because of its deep religious significance.

Muslims believe Muhammad was taken to the site in his famous “Night Journey” and from there transported to heaven and then back to Mecca.

The Esplanade of the Mosques sits above the sacred Jewish prayer space facing the Western Wall, which is all that remains of the wall that surrounded the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans in the year 70.

An interreligious pilgrimage to the site isn’t a daily occurrence, but Pope Francis wanted to go with his friends.

Read more about that emotional embrace at CNS’s blog.

And you can check out more stories, pictures and video from the trip at our special page, Apostles of Unity in the Holy Land.