Pope Francis, like all his recent predecessors, has expressed a desire for good relations among the world’s religions, as well as the various Christian churches, from the very beginning. Rarely, however, has that drive been as visible or intense as it is right now. We’re currently in the middle of a 10-day stretch that features three high-profile events: One could be described as fairly routine, but the other two are anything but.
On Jan. 17, Francis crossed Rome to visit the city’s historic Great Synagogue, his first visit to a Jewish place of worship since his election to the papacy in March 2013. It marked the third time a pontiff has gone to the Rome synagogue, located within the boundaries of what was once a papally-imposed Jewish ghetto. On Jan. 25, as popes do every year, Francis will go to Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which falls on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. Generally, it’s the most important annual occasion for popes to reflect on ecumenism. FULL REPORT