(JNS.org) Pope Francis officially announced his plans to visit Israel from May 24-26, 2014.
“In the climate of joy, typical of this Christmas season, I wish to announce that from 24 to 26 May next, God willing, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” Pope Francis said following his Sunday service, Vatican Radio reported.
Pope Francis went on to say that the purpose of his visit was to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, which took place during a three-day trip to Israel and Jordan 50 years ago in January 1964. That was the first meeting of the heads of the Catholic and Orthodox churches since the Middle Ages.
Pope Francis said that he would visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Jordanian capital of Amman. Previous details released indicated that the pontiff will first arrive in Jordan and then take a helicopter to Tel Aviv, where he will be welcomed by an official Israeli government reception. From there, Pope Francis will tour Yad Vashem, the Western Wall, and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. The pontiff will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Israeli religious leaders. Afterwards, the Pope will hold a Mass in Bethlehem.