Petri told CNA that hearing stories of pilgrims stranded in Tel Aviv due to canceled flights cemented his decision to get out before any new policy could be implemented.
"Israel is now requiring everyone who enters the country to go into a 14-day quarantine and they're making sure people abide by it," he said. "The prior of the Dominican Priory in Jerusalem had to sign a legal document verifying that they are following all quarantine laws."
Petri said that while he was not sure if the quarantine directive was necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he could "understand the desire to slow the spread of this very contagious virus, even if we can't guarantee a lot of people will still get it."
"Israel is famously strict in its security and concern for its citizens, and we can understand why," he added. According to Petri, most people he spoke with about the quarantine measures, including Israeli citizens, thought the decision was "extreme."
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Despite the abbreviated pilgrimage, which meant he did not get to see Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, the Sea of Galilee, or Capernum, Petri called his trip "some of the most graced and fulfilling days of my life."
"I have been renewed in my priesthood as the Lord has made clear His closeness and His love for me, and for all of us poor sinners," he said to CNA. He thinks that "everyone" should make an effort to visit the Holy Land, and that doing so will lead to a deeper understanding of faith.
The adjusted itinerary means that Petri will have extra days in Paris, before his flight back home to the United States. He told CNA that he had not made any concrete plans about what he would do with his newfound time in the City of Lights.
"I'll find something to do," he said. "It's Paris!"
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.