Pope Francis to Make First Holy Land Visit in Spring 2014
Pope Francis is expected to make his first trip to the Middle East on May 25, where he will visit Israel and various Hold Land spots.
In April, Israeli President Shimon Peres gave the pontiff an invitation to come to the Holy Land. When Francis met with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on October 17, the leader also invited the Pope to visit the region resided by the Palestinian Authority.
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The Bishop of Rome will visit many sacred locations from throughout Christiananity and Judaism's history while on the trip. In addition, he will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. However, he is not expected to visit Nazareth or any other area in Galilee.
"It is in the first instance up to the Pope himself to decide upon and to announce such a visit," said Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi when he spoke to AFP. As of today, Lombardi would not confirm nor deny the Roman Catholic leader's potential traveling campaign.
According to Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, " [Francis] is expected to arrive in Israel from neighboring Jordan on the morning of May 25 and meet Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and heads of local religious communities."
The Israeli newspaper also claimed, that Israeli authorities were not happy with the short 48-hour visit, and the fact Pope Francis would not be celebrating mass there.
"[The Pontiff] cares about the Holy Land and the Middle East." said Fuad Twal, Jerusalem's Latin Archbishop in his Christmas missive on Wednesday.
The proposed trip is expected to be officially announced after Christmas Day.
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