Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni is working with the Vatican to arrange a meeting between the parents of the three slain Israeli teens, and Pope Francis.
The unprecedented gesture comes in the wake of a personal telephone call between the two on July 1.
“Good evening. This is Pope Francis. I wanted to personally express my sadness for the death of the three youths,” the Catholic News Service reported him saying on Wednesday.
On June 30, Israeli searchers discovered the bodies of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Frankel buried not far from where they were abducted by Hamas terrorists on June 12.
Di Segni noted that “It was an informal conversation, very human.”
“He’s an extraordinary man,” the rabbi said of the Pope, who asked what he could do to aid the families.
Di Segni explained that he’d been working to set up a meeting between the Pope and the families while their sons were presumed still alive, in order to garner international support for their plight.
Pope Francis, in response, said his interest in meeting and comforting the families had not changed.
“The assassination of innocent people is always an execrable and unacceptable crime and a serious obstacle on the path toward the peace for which we must tirelessly continue to strive and pray,” Lombardi’s statement read.
“Pope Francis participates in the unspeakable suffering of the families struck by this homicidal violence and the pain of all persons afflicted by the consequences of hatred,” Father Lombardi said, and he “prays that God might inspire all with thoughts of compassion and peace.”