The Holy Father will meet twice the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, hold an ecumenical meeting in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, and sign a joint declaration.

Papa FrancescoPope Francis will pray side-by-side with Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew in Jerusalem in a powerful sign of Christian unity during his May visit to Holy Land, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The prayer will take place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the spots widely believed to be the sites of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.


The two will also sign a joint declaration when they meet on what will be the 50th anniversary of a visit to Jerusalem by two of their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras.

"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 Fuad Twal told reporters in Jerusalem as he announced the programme of the pontiff's May 24-26 visit to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories.

During the brief trip, Francis will celebrate Sunday mass in West Bank city Bethlehem, where Jesus is believed to have been born.

He will meet Palestinian and Syrian refugees and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

But Twal warned the visit could be jeopardised if a strike by staff at Israel's foreign ministry is not resolved in time. (...)




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