Vatican City, 28 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office communicates that yesterday afternoon the Pope received in the Domus Sanctae Marthae an important Argentine interreligious group made up of 45 persons: fifteen Jews, fifteen Muslims and fifteen Catholics.

The group has recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, following a pilgrimage of several days, ahead of the Holy Father's visit. The group passed through the three countries he will visit – Jordan , Israel, and Palestine – meeting with political and religious leaders and visiting the holy sites of the three religions. Many members of the group, which includes several rabbis, imams and priests, knew the former Cardinal Bergoglio as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and had collaborated with him in joint initiatives, often of a social or charitable nature for persons or social groups in difficult situations, or in the field of interreligious dialogue.

Their friendship and spiritual closeness to the Pope were among the reasons for this initiative; the pilgrimage, therefore, concluded in Rome, with their meeting with the Holy Father. They expressed their best wishes for his ministry of peace and dialogue and for his forthcoming pilgrimage in the Holy Land. The meeting, which lasted around an hour, took place in a cordial atmosphere and was attended by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

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