CNS photo/Evandro Inetti, pool)

Jerusalem patriarch says Pope Francis' May trip to focus on Christian unity

By  Judith Sudilovsky, Catholic News Service
  • March 27, 2014

JERUSALEM - When Pope Francis visits the Holy Land in May, he will follow the pattern he set last year in Brazil by meeting with the leaders of the three nations he will visit as well as with the less fortunate.

But the trip also will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, and it is for that reason the theme of the trip is: "So that they may be one."

Church officials released the pope's official schedule for the May 24-26 visit and confirmed that Pope Francis will meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, considered "first among equals" of the Orthodox bishops, May 25 in Jerusalem and again the following day. On May 25, the two are scheduled to sign a joint declaration.

"We are called to be one, and the pope is coming to remind us of this and renew the spirit of unity and fraternal love," Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem told a news conference March 27. "The logo and the motto that have been chosen for this pilgrimage focus in on this desire for unity."

The official logo of the pilgrimage depicts the embrace of Sts. Peter and Andrew, patrons of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the patriarch added.

Patriarch Twal said Pope Francis has requested modest welcoming ceremonies throughout the visit. In Amman May 24, he will meet with Jordan's King Abdullah and Queen Rania. The following day, in Bethlehem, West Bank, Pope Francis will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In Jerusalem May 26, he will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Jordan, the pope will meet with refugees and disabled young people. In Bethlehem, he will eat lunch with Palestinian families at the Franciscan Convent of Casa Nova, following which he will greet children from the Dehiyshe, Aida and Beit Jibrin refugee camps at the Phoenix Center of the Dehiyshe Refugee Camp.

The pope will celebrate two public Masses during his visit; at the International Stadium in Amman and in Bethlehem's Manger Square. Patriarch Twal said he hoped travel restrictions would be eased to allow Christians from Gaza to attend the Bethlehem Mass. He also said a special place would be made for Christians traveling from Israel's Galilee region to the Mass in Bethlehem.

Following is the pope's itinerary as released by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parenthesis.

Saturday, May 24 (Rome, Amman)

-- 8:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.) Departure from Rome Fiumicino airport for Amman.

-- 1 p.m. (6 a.m.) Arrival at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman.

-- 1:45 p.m. (6:45 a.m.) Arrival ceremony in the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman.

-- Courtesy visit to the king and queen of Jordan.

-- 2:20 p.m. (7:20 a.m.) Meeting with the authorities of the kingdom of Jordan. Speech by the pope.

-- 4 p.m. (9 a.m.) Mass at Amman International Stadium. Homily by the pope.

-- 7 p.m. (12 noon) Visit to the baptismal site at Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

-- 7:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.) Meeting with refugees and disabled young people in the Latin church at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Speech by the pope.

Sunday, May 25 (Amman, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem)

-- 8:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.) Farewell at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman.

-- 8:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) Departure by helicopter from the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman for Bethlehem.

-- 9:20 a.m. (2:20 a.m.) Arrival at the helicopter port of Bethlehem.

-- 9:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m.) Arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in Bethlehem.

-- Courtesy visit to the president of the state of Palestine.

-- 10 a.m. (3 a.m.) Meeting with the Palestinian Authority. Speech by the pope.

-- 11 a.m. (4 a.m.) Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Homily by the pope.

-- "Regina Coeli" prayer. Remarks by the pope.

-- 1:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m.) Lunch with families from Palestine in the Franciscan convent of Casa Nova in Bethlehem.

-- 3 p.m. (8 a.m.) Private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

-- 3:20 p.m. (8:20 a.m.) Greeting of children from the refugee camps of Dehiyshe, Aida and Beit Jibrin at the Phoenix Center of the Dehiyshe Refugee Camp.

-- 3:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.) Farewell at the helicopter port of Bethlehem.

-- 4 p.m. (9 a.m.) Departure by helicopter from Bethlehem for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

-- 4:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.) Arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Speech by the pope.

-- 5:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m.) Transfer by helicopter to Jerusalem.

-- 5:45 p.m. (10:45 a.m.) Arrival at the helicopter port of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus.

-- 6:15 p.m. (11:15 p.m.) Private meeting with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople at the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem. Signing of a joint declaration.

-- 7 p.m. (12 noon) Ecumenical meeting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Speech by the pope.

-- 8:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.) Dinner with the patriarchs and bishops and the papal delegation at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

Monday, May 26 (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rome)

-- 8:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.) Visit to the grand mufti of Jerusalem in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques. Speech by the pope.

-- 9:10 a.m. (2:10 a.m.) Visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

-- 9:45 a.m. (2:45 a.m.) Laying a wreath at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

-- 10 a.m. (3 a.m.) Visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Speech by the pope.

-- 10:45 a.m. (3:45 a.m.) Courtesy visit to the two chief rabbis at Heichal Shlomo center in Jerusalem, next to the Great Synagogue. Speech by the pope.

-- 11:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.) Courtesy visit to the president of the state of Israel at the presidential residence in Jerusalem. Speech by the pope.

-- 1 p.m. (6 a.m.) Private audience with the prime minister of Israel at Notre Dame center in Jerusalem.

-- 1:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m.) Lunch with the papal delegation at Notre Dame center in Jerusalem.

-- 3:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m.) Private visit to the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople at the building next to the Orthodox Church of Viri Galilaei on the Mount of Olives.

-- 4 p.m. (9 a.m.) Meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Church of All Nations at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Speech by the pope.

-- 5:20 p.m. (10:20 a.m.) Mass with the ordinaries of the Holy Land and the papal delegation in the Cenacle in Jerusalem. Homily by the pope.

-- 7:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m.) Transfer by helicopter from Mount Scopus in Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

-- 8 p.m. (1 p.m.) Farewell at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

-- 8:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.) Departure from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for Ciampino airport in Rome.

-- 11 p.m. (5 p.m.) Arrival at Ciampino airport in Rome.

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