Despite the strike by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the complete itinerary of the first trip of Pope Francis to the Holy Land has been prepared and the trip is moving forward, sources close to the Vatican told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
Contrary to reports, the ongoing Foreign Ministry strike may end in the coming weeks, and, even if it were to continue, the work stoppage would not impact the Papal visit, sources said. Other measures have been taken by various arms of the Israeli government and relevant non-profits to enable the trip to proceed, the sources said. They added that to meet the Pope’s expectations for the trip, a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, a personal friend, was a must-have, meaning that the trip would have to move forward before Peres retires this year.
Based on the details of the trip revealed on Thursday, Pope Francis will fly from Rome to Jordan, take a helicopter to Bethlehem then on to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. At each stop, he will be meeting with political and religious leaders. From start to finish, the Pope will be away from the Vatican for about 62 hours.
The full details of the trip are posted below.
The trip, the first for the Argentine Pope, is expected to draw tremendous interest from Latin America, an area with 500 million Spanish speakers, most of whom are Catholic.
In the Pope’s native Argentina, where he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, his close friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who will also be coming to Israel for the Papal visit, made dialogue between religions and peoples a priority.
In preparation for the Papal visit and the large media contingent that will be coming to Israel, the Jerusalem Press Club has partnered with Fuente Latina, a media advocacy group that provides access to information about Israel and the Middle East in Spanish. As well as documentation about the visit, Fuente Latina will be providing journalists access to Spanish-speaking officials, experts on Christianity in Israel and helicopter and ground tours of the areas where the Pope will be visiting and the Christian holy sites.
In an interview with The Algemeiner earlier this month, Israel Defense Forces Captain Roni Kaplan, a Uruguayan-Israeli with Russian and Polish roots who directs the IDF’s Spokesman’s Spanish office, said, “There are 500 million Spanish speakers in the world, but, unfortunately, with so many other battle fronts, the IDF never has been able to focus on the people in this region, until the IDF Spokesman made a conscious decision for this to become a new front for us.”
Kaplan said the media coverage of the Papal visit will provide visiting journalists – and their readers and viewers at home – an opportunity to learn about more modern Israel as well as the holy Christian sites; his role will be to facilitate that in Spanish.
“Spanish-speaking people around the world don’t know that much about Israel, but they’re willing to listen and learn, but they want to hear it in Spanish, from a Spanish-speaking person,” Kaplan told The Algemeiner.
FULL ITINERARY OF PAPAL VISIT—RomeSaturday, May 24, 20148:15 – Departure from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Amman—Jordan13:00 – Arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman13:45 – Arrival ceremony at the Royal Palace in Amman al- Husseini– Courtesy visit with King and Queen of Jordan14:20 – Meeting authorities from Kingdom of Jordan. Address of the Holy Father16:00 – Mass at the Amman International Stadium. Homily of His Holiness19:00 – Visit to the Baptism at Bethany19:15 – Meeting refugees and disable youth in the Latin Church of Bethany. Address of the Holy Father—Sunday, May 25, 20148:15 – Farewell. Queen Alia airport in Amman08:30 – Departure by helicopter from the Queen Alia airport in Amman to Bethlehem—Palestine Authority9:20 – Arrival by helicopter to the helipad of Bethlehem9:30 – Arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in Bethlehem– Courtesy visit to the President of the Palestinian Authority10:00 – Meeting with Palestinian Authority– Address of the Holy Father11:00 – Holy Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Homily of His Holiness– Regina Coeli Prayer. Address of the Holy Father13:30 – Lunch with Palestinian families in the Franciscan convent of “Casa Nova” in Bethlehem15:00 – Private visit to the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem15:20 – Greeting children of refugee camps of Deheisheh , AIDA and Beit Jibrin in downtown Phoenix Deheisheh refugee camp .15:45 – Farewell at the heliport of Bethlehem16:00 – Departure by helicopter from the heliport of Bethlehem for Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv—Israel16:30 – Arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Address of the Holy Father17:15 – Transfer by helicopter to Jerusalem17:45 – Arrival at the heliport of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus18:15 – Private meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. Signing a joint return.19.00 – Ecumenical Meeting on the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Address of the Holy Father20:15 – Dinner with the Patriarchs and Bishops and the Papal entourage at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem—Monday, May 26, 20148:15 – Visit to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the building of the Grand Council in the Temple Mount. Address of the Holy Father9:10 – Visit Western Wall in Jerusalem9:45 – Laying a wreath at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem10.00 – Visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Address of the Holy Father10:45 – Courtesy visit to the two chief rabbis of Heichal Shlomo Center in Jerusalem at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue. Address of the Holy Father11:45 – Courtesy visit to the President of the State of Israel at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. Address of the Holy Father13:00 – Private audience with the Prime Minister of the State of Israel in Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem13:30 – Lunch with papal entourage at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem15:30 – Private visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople , in the building next to the Orthodox Church Viri Galileai on the Mount of Olives16:00 – Meeting with priests, religious and seminarians in the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Address of the Holy Father17:20 – MASS the Ordinaries of the Holy Land and papal entourage in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem. Homily of His Holiness19:30 – Transportation by helicopter from the heliport on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv20:00 – Farewell at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv20:15 – Departure from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv for the Ciampino airport in Rome—Rome23:00 – Arrival at Ciampino airport in Rome