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Current Issue
July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
  
15 June 2017
Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service




In the video above, Pope Francis and religious leaders from many different faiths describe why it is important to reach out to people of other religions. (video: Elijah Interfaith Institute/YouTube)

Reaching out to people of other religions can be both challenging and enriching for individuals and is the only hope for true peace in the world, said a variety of religious leaders, including Pope Francis.

The pope and his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka appear in a video montage and together in their own video as part of the “Make Friends” initiative coordinated by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, which has offices in Israel and in Dallas.

The video series, posted on YouTube 14 June, also includes Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran leaders, Jewish rabbis, Sunni and Shiite Muslim clerics, Buddhist monks and nuns, and Hindu and Sikh leaders.

In their video, Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka talk about how their own religious convictions led them into conversations with each other, and how those conversations not only increased their understanding of God and formed the basis of a television series and book, but also led to true friendship.

Pope Francis and Rabbi Abraham Skorka discuss their friendship in a special video for the Elijah Interfaith Institute. (video: Elijah Interfaith Institute/YouTube)

When sending emails back and forth, “because we still have projects going on,” Rabbi Skorka said, they address each other as “‘Dear brother,’ and it’s not just a saying. We have such open, deep and affectionate conversations. We understand each other.”

As they met and held discussions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, “the friendship grew, always retaining our respective identities,” the pope said. “‘Brother and friend’ — those are my feelings for him.”

Explaining the “Make Friends” initiative, the Elijah Interfaith Institute said, “Friendship and getting to know one another are the antidotes to negativity and divisions in society, enhancing understanding and unity.”

Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the founder and director of the institute.

You can read more about the initiative at this website.