(JNS.org) Pope Francis will make his first visit to Israel as pontiff from May 25-26, CNN reported Thursday, citing an unnamed senior Israeli source.
When Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein urged him to visit Israel during an October meeting at the Vatican, Pope Francis replied, “I’ll come! I’ll come!” In April, the pontiff had also accepted an invitation to visit Israel from President Shimon Peres.
Pope Francis has made Jewish-Christian relations a priority, continuing the legacy of his predecessors. On Nov. 26, he his released his widely anticipated first Apostolic Exhortation, which included a strong reaffirmation of dialogue with the Jewish people and an expression of regret for past anti-Semitism.
“We [the Catholic Church] hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked,” Pope Francis wrote in the document.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to Italy on Sunday for a two-day trip that was scheduled to include a meeting with Pope Francis.