The preliminary details for Pope Francis’s much-anticipated trip to the Holy Land have been revealed.
The trip is scheduled for May 25-26. According to the preliminary plans, the pontiff will first arrive in Jordan and then take a helicopter to Tel Aviv, where he will be welcomed by an official Israeli government reception. From there, Pope Francis will tour Yad Vashem, the Western Wall, and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. The pontiff will also meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israeli religious leaders.
According to Ynet, some Israeli officials are disappointed by the short nature of the two-day trip and by the fact that the pontiff will not hold Mass in Jerusalem, but instead in Palestinian Authority-controlled Bethlehem. Pope John Paul II’s trip to the region in 2000 last six days, while Pope Benedict XVI’s trip lasted five days in 2009.
The visit to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank will be the first major trip initiated by Pope Francis. The pope visited Brazil last summer in a trip that was previously scheduled by his predecessor. The Vatican is expected to make an official announcement of Pope Francis’s trip in a few weeks.