On March 27, 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal held a press conference in the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem in order to announce the pilgrimage of Pope Francis. At this conference the itinerary of the Holy Father was also published.
Welcome to the Latin Patriarchate. We are delighted that you are here so that we can share with you good news: the Holy Father, Pope Francis will be among us from May 24 to May 26, 2014.
The highlight of this pilgrimage will be the fulfillment of his wish on Sunday evening, May 25 in the Church of the Resurrection. The Pope announced on January 6, earlier this year: “God willing, I will be making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The main purpose is to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, which occurred exactly 50 years ago”. We await eagerly the embrace of the Holy Father with Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew as well as with our brothers here in Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos and Armenian Patriarch Noorhan and all the heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem. 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. The logo and the motto that have been chosen for this pilgrimage focus in on this desire for unity. The motto is “So that they may be one” and the logo shows the embrace of Saints Peter and Andrew, patrons of the Church in Rome and the Church in Constantinople.
The Holy Father will of course meet with the faithful of the Holy Land, most particularly in celebrations of the Holy Mass – in Amman and in Bethlehem. In Jerusalem, at the scene of the Last Supper, he will celebrate a special mass with the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. There will also be occasions for him to meet with different groups of faithful: handicapped, refugees, men and women religious, seminarians and priests.
He will of course also pay his respects to our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters, visiting the Haram al-Sharif and the Western Wall. We seek our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters in dialogue in order to know one another better as God’s children and work together to bring justice and peace, pardon and reconciliation to our broken land.
Pope Francis is coming to visit three political realities – Jordan, Palestine and Israel. In each place he will meet with the heads of state, encouraging one and all in fair government for the benefit of all citizens and to work together to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the welfare of all and the prosperity of all. As head of state, the Holy Father will comply fully with the protocol fixed by each national authority. He will meet with the heads of state but will also reach out to those who are broken and hurting.
Our hope is that the Holy Father will inspire us to greater unity so that we are more courageous in breaking down barriers of enmity. Furthermore, we hope that he will inspire us all to greater solidarity especially with the poorest and the suffering. We are sure that he will strengthen us all in joy and hope. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”.