It's official: Pope to visit Holy Land in May
Pope Francis to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem in the West Bank and Jordanian capital of Amman
Pope Francis, who will be the leader of the Catholic Church for one year this coming March, has announced his first official visit to the Holy Land scheduled for May. The pontiff says he will visit Jerusalem, the capital of Jordan, Amman and Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Full of laughter, Pope Francis left a humorous telephone message to an order of nuns on New Year's Day.
"At the Holy Sepulcher we will celebrate an Ecumenical Meeting with all the representatives of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem, together with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
"As of now I ask you to pray for this pilgrimage," the Pope said.
Sunday, January 5 marks the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and the then-spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians Patriarch Athenagoras.
The pontiff's announcement was made as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a new bid for peace.
Kerry stressed that the Obama administration "is committed to putting forward ideas that are fair, that are balanced, and that improve the security of all of the people of this region," and progress was being made in Middle East peace talks.
In the meantime, nuns in a Carmelite community in Lucena, Spain, received a voice-mail message on New Year's Eve from Pope Francis that they were eager to share with the rest of the world.
"What are the nuns doing that they can't answer?" the Pope said jokingly. "I am Pope Francis, I wish to greet you in this end of the year, I will see if I can call you later. May God bless you!"
The nuns passed the audio message to the Spanish radio network COPE, which is linked to the body that runs the Roman Catholic Church in Spain.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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