Pope Francis will visit Palestine, Israel and Jordan from 24 to 26 May 2014. He will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting of Pope Paul VI with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras in Jerusalem, marking a milestone in the long march towards Christian unity, especially between Catholics and Orthodox, painfully divided since the Great Schism of 1054.
During that 1964 visit, Paul met with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, ending hundreds of years of estrangement between Catholics and Orthodox.
Francis will meet with the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, on four separate occasions during his packed three-day visit.
The highlight in Jerusalem is a prayer service inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of Christianity’s holiest sites where the faithful believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
Francis’ schedule is so “intense that the 77-year-old pontiff cancelled a planned visit to a Rome parish on Sunday to rest up for it. His official program over the three days includes 13 speeches or homilies, private audiences with leaders of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians, meetings with patriarchs, muftis, rabbis and refugees, as well as symbolic visits to some of the holiest sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism”.
Pope in Palestine (Vatican)
Highlights of his intended visit to Bethlehem, will include a meeting with children from Bethlehem’s refugee camps (Deheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin), a mass at Manger Square and a private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
A visit is not expected to Bethlehem University, the first Catholic university in the Holy Land.
It was following the historic visit of Pope Paul VI to the Holy Land in 1964 when “he heard Palestinians express their desire for a university in their homeland that the Vatican-sponsored Bethlehem University was established in 1973 as a joint venture of the Vatican and the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Since its founding, each of the successive Popes have continued to support and affirm the educational activities of Bethlehem University. During his visit to the Holy Land in 2000, Pope John Paul II spoke about the “extremely valuable work” of Bethlehem University in serving “the noble cause of education” in building up the Palestinian society. When Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2009, he highlighted “the outstanding achievements of Bethlehem University,” especially with inter-faith and ecumenical relations.”
1. Official website of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land for the visit of Pope Francis in the Holy Land, 24 – 26 May 2014 http://popefrancisholyland2014.lpj.org
2. Jeffrey Heller, Anti-Christian slogans alarm Catholic Church before Pope Francis’s Holy Land visit, 8 May 2014
“The Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem, preparing for a visit by Pope Francis later this month, has expressed alarm over threats to Christians scrawled by suspected Jewish extremists on church property in the Holy Land.
In an incident on Monday, “Death to Arabs and Christians and all those who hate Israel” was daubed in Hebrew on an outer column of the Office of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem.
“The wave of fanaticism and intimidation against Christians continues,” the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem posted on its website, referring to so-called “price tag” incidents.
“Mere coincidence?” the patriarchate statement asked. “The Notre Dame Center is property of the Holy See and this provocation comes two weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land and Jerusalem.””
3. Photo: Pope Francis and peace dove
Pope’s visit to Bethlehem – itinerary
Sunday, May 25, 2014
8:15 FAREWELL FROM JORDAN at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman
8:30 Departure by helicopter from the Queen Alia Internal Airport in Amman for Bethlehem
9:20 Arrival at the helicopter port of Bethlehem
9:30 ARRIVAL CEREMONY at the presidential Palace in Bethlehem
COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE
10:00 MEETING WITH THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY – Discourse of the Holy Father
11:00 HOLY MASS in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Homily of the Holy Father
REGINA COELI PRAYER. Allocution of the Holy Father
13:30 Lunch with families from Palestine in the Franciscan convent of Casa Nova in Bethlehem
15:00 PRIVATE VISIT TO THE GROTTO OF THE NATIVITY IN BETHLEHEM
15:20 GREETING OF CHILDREN FROM THE REFUGEE CAMPS OF DEHEISHEH, AIDA AND BEIT JIBRIN at the Phoenix
Center of the Deheisheh Refugee Camp
15:45 FAREWELL FROM THE STATE OF PALESTINE at the helicopter port of Bethlehem
16:00 Departure by helicopter from the helicopter port of Bethlehem for Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv
16:30 ARRIVAL CEREMONY at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Discourse of the Holy Father
17:15 Transfer by helicopter to Jerusalem
17:45 Arrival at the helicopter port of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus
18:15 Private meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. Signing of a joint declaration.
19.00 ECUMENICAL MEETING on the occasion of the 50 anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. Discourse of the Holy Father
20:15 Dinner with the Patriarchs and Bishops and the Papal suite at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem