Cardinal Sean O’Malley joins other Boston Catholic leaders on Israel pilgrimage

( Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who was considered by some to be a leading candidate for Pope at the recent conclave, is on a weeklong Easter retreat to Israel with 29 Catholic priests from the Boston archdiocese.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Berthold Werner.

The Catholic leaders will visit a number of Christian holy sites in Israel. These include the Basilica of the Annunciation, Mount Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Transfiguration, Qumran, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Cenacle, according to, which has a blogger traveling with the group.

“It is a packed itinerary and each stop contains untold riches of spiritual reflection on Jesus’s life, ministry, and teachings as well as our own Christian walk,” archdiocese spokesperson Terrence Donilon said in a statement to the Boston Globe.

Under the leadership of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, relations between Catholics and Jews took several positive steps. Both Catholic leaders visited Israel and Pope Benedict became the first pontiff to declare a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ in his book Jesus of Nazareth-Part II—a longtime sticking point in Jewish-Catholic relations. The newly elected Pope Francis I has expressed a willingness to continue his predecessors’ work and has reached out to Jewish leaders early in his papacy.

Posted on April 11, 2013 .