The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem confirmed Pope Francis´ visit to Israel, according to father David Neuhaus SJ, its vicar, in an exclusive interview with the Jewish News Agency – AJN. He also added that today they will announce the program of the Pontifex´s trip.
Confirmed: Pope Francis is going to visit Israel
The confirmation was made after several media reports that suggested that his journey would be suspended because of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs´ protest in Israel.
"The Pope is coming to The Holy Land as a pilgrim. He is coming primarily to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and commemorate the meeting of Pope Paul VI with Patriarch Athenagoras, a meeting that initiated the move towards reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox", he said.
Besides, he added: "In Israel, the visit will once again drive home the revolution in relations between Jews and Christians that has taken place over the past 50 years. Pope Francis is a friend of the Jewish people and his presence in Israel will certainly underline his concern, friendship and interest".
Father Neuhaus said that Francis is also going to Jordan and Palestine, and that each destine will encourage the local Christian community, "especially stressing the importance of unity". In each place he will also promote values of justice, peace, reconciliation and dialogue, he expressed.
"I hope that the impact will be to promote dialogue between Jews and Catholics not only in Europe and the US but also here at home. I hope that there will be growth in mutual respect, interest and a willingness to reach out to one another and work together for a society that promotes the values that the Pope holds dear – especially the concern for those in the margins, those excluded because of economic and social imbalances", he pointed out.