A glance at Pope Francis’ Holy Land pilgrimage
JERUSALEM (AP) — Here is a glance at the highlights of Pope Francis’ visit to the West Bank and Israel on Sunday, the second day of his Holy Land pilgrimage.
— Flies from Jordan to Bethlehem in the West Bank, becoming the first pope to enter the Palestinian Territories directly, without passing through Israel first.
— Meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Calls the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians “unacceptable” and urges both sides to make sacrifices to reach peace.
— Stops to pray at the separation barrier that surrounds Bethlehem, touching his forehead to the concrete wall which Israelis say is necessary to keep out suicide bombers and other militants and Palestinians denounce as a land grab.
— Celebrates Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, in front of the Basilica of the Nativity that marks Jesus’ traditional birthplace, surrounded by cheering crowds waving Palestinian and Vatican flags.
— In his homily, speaks out against mistreatment and exploitation of children, saying he feels “shame before God” that so many children live in “inhuman” conditions across the world.
— Invites Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to join him at the Vatican next month to pray for peace. Both leaders accept the invitation.
— Meets Palestinian children at the Dheisheh refugee camp and urges them to reject violence and not to “let the past rule your life.”
— Takes helicopter to Tel Aviv’s airport where he is welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
— In remarks to Israeli leaders, says “there is no other way” but to restart peace talks aiming for a two-state solution to the conflict.
— Condemns Saturday’s deadly shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels, calling it a “criminal act of anti-Semitic hatred.”
— Flies to Jerusalem to meet with Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew I to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between their predecessors, which opened the way for reconciliation between the two Churches.
— The two spiritual leaders pray for unity at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.