Pope's traveling companions in Israel to include rabbi and sheik
ROME — With a rabbi and a Muslim sheik as his travel companions, Pope Francis is heading to the Middle East with what he hopes will be a powerful message of interfaith respect.
It will be the first time that leaders of other faiths are part of an official papal delegation. The aim is to send "an extremely strong and explicit signal" about interfaith dialogue and the "normality" of having friends of other religions, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, chief Vatican spokesman, told reporters.