Pope to Israeli reporter: “How can I help?”

On 13 June 2013,  Pope Francis granted an interview to Israel’s Channel 2 TV at Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

That interview made history; it was the first time that a TV crew entered Santa Marta to interview the pope.

What is not known, however, is that immediately afterwards Francis asked to speak in private with the TV reporter, Henrique Cymerman.

He opened the conversation with a highly significant question regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation: “How can I help?” and he then followed up with a series of other pertinent questions.

I learned all this because Cymerman happened to be sitting in front of me on the papal plane from Rome to Amman.

When the Pope came to greet each of the 73 journalists from 15 countries that are accompanying him on his “pilgrimage of prayer” to Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, I noticed that he spoke to the Israeli in Spanish and that it was clear that they  seemed to know each other well, and had something to say to each other.

My curiosity was aroused.  Afterwards, I asked the Israeli how he had first come to know the Argentinian pope and he told me this fascinating story.

Cymerman was born in Portugal of a Spanish mother and Polish father, and came to Israel at the age of 16. He speaks many languages and is one of the lead reporters for Israel’s Channel 2 TV.

In April 2013 he travelled to Buenos Aires to give a conference on the Middle East.  Some 700 people attended including Rabbi Abraham Skorka, an old friend of Francis.

Skorka, it seems liked what the Israeli said, and afterwards approached him and asked if he would like to meet Pope Francis. Cymerman responded enthusiastically and so Skorka contacted the pope and arranged an interview for June 7. Continue reading.

Source: America Magazine

Image: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters

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