The Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said last week that the Pope’s upcoming visit to the Holy Land in May will make the Pontiff “a bearer of peace and reconciliation.”
In an interview with the Italian news agency SIR, the Nuncio said, “We still don’t know if the Pope will be able to come to Gaza. It was not and is not on the schedule, because there are many things that must be taken into account, in addition to the amount of time he will have. But we certainly hope there will be a presence of the small Catholic community of Gaza at one of the Masses.”
The Nuncio also said that this trip “will be a pastoral visit to the Catholic communities of Jordan and the Holy Land, in addition to Israel and the Palestinian territories, with an open heart to the mission of the Church.” There will be three celebrations: one in Jerusalem, one in Bethlehem and one in Galilee, Archbishop Franco said.
During the visit, Archbishop Franco explained, “The Pope will also meet with the leaders of other Christian denominations and of other religions: Islam and Judaism.” The pastoral aspect of the trip will not preclude meetings with “government officials of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”