The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis plans to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI and pay a visit to the Great Synagogue in Rome. A Nov. 17 Vatican announcement reads, “Following the invitation from the Chief Rabbi and Jewish Community of Rome, Pope Francis will pay a visit to the Great Synagogue in the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016.”
According to the announcement, the visit will include a personal encounter between the Pope and representatives of the Jewish faith and the members of the Jewish Community in Rome.
Pope Francis is the latest in a string of pontiffs since John XXIII who considered Catholic relations with the Jews their priority. John XXIII, a.k.a. “the Good Pope,” saved thousands of Jewish lives while serving as apostolic nuncio to Turkey during World War II, creating official-looking documents for Jewish refugees seeking to escape into British Palestine. He enlisted a network of Church officials and neutral politicians to assist him in his efforts to save and protect Jewish people.