Pope Francis to Visit Israel in May, Will Hold Only Mass in Bethlehem
Pope Francis is planning a trip to Israel and Jordan in May, but it is only a two-day trip, and the one Mass he is poised to conduct will be in Bethlehem, a Palestinian stronghold. One Israeli news source commented, “The Palestinian Authority will be the main beneficiary, as it will gain international prominence.” Israel is trying to get the pope to conduct a mass in Israel proper.
When Pope John Paul II visited Israel in 2000, he stayed for 6 days, and he conducted masses in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth. Pope Benedict stayed for 5 days in 2009. But Francis is expected to arrive in Amman, Jordan, on Saturday, May 25, then helicopter to Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday, flying back to Rome that night.
Francis is expected to visit Yad Vashem, the Western Wall, and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, but no Christian sites in northern Israel, where Jesus lived most of his life. Francis hopes to pray together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem with his old friend from Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka. Skorka has said that they have previously stated that they would like to do so “to show the world it is possible.”