A rabbi whose good friend became the pope

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Updated: Thu, 21 Nov 2013 07:18:30 EST

NEW YORK (AP) — An Argentine rabbi who has known Pope Francis for years says they spent several days together in September.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka was the pope's guest in the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, the hotel Francis chose as his home to keep from becoming isolated in the Apostolic Palace. The two old friends ate together amid other diners in the hotel's restaurant.

When Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he and Skorka co-wrote a book on Judaism and Roman Catholicism titled, "On Heaven and Earth," had a TV show called "Bible, A Dialogue for Today," and offered prayers from each other's pulpits.

Skorka says the pope works long hours now and misses his friends in Argentina and the ability to move about freely.

The rabbi says he hopes to accompany Francis if he travels to Israel and the Palestinian territories next year, a trip that is under consideration. Skorka says he hopes to pray with the pope at Jerusalem's Western Wall and in Bethlehem.

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