TUESDAY
March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 47
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
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POPE'S DREAM OF VISITING HOLY LAND COMING TRUE
Publication of Official Program of Long Awaited Trip

    VATICAN CITY, MAR 6 (ZENIT.org).- The Vatican Press Office today announced the official program of John Paul II's visit to the Holy Land, from March 20-26. This is a further stage in his pilgrimage to the places of Revelation that radically changed the history of humanity.

    Following his "spiritual" journey to Ur of the Chaldeans in Abraham's footsteps, which took place in the Vatican on February 23, and his trip to Egypt, and Mount Sinai in particular, from February 24-26, recalling episodes in Moses' life and that of the Holy Family, John Paul II will finally be able to fulfill his dream of visiting Jordan, the Autonomous Territories of the National Palestinian Authority, and Israel.

    The Holy Father's first stopover will be Jordan, where he will arrive on March 20 at 2 p.m. in Amman's Airport. That afternoon, the Pontiff will be received by Jordanian authorities, and he will visit the ancient monastery of Mount Nebo in Madaba, from where Moses looked out on the Promised Land, the Chosen People's destiny, which he was never to enter. John Paul II will celebrate Mass in Amman's Stadium, and visit King Abdala II of Jordan. He will also visit Wadi-Al Kharrar, in the Jordan Valley, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

    The Holy Father will also celebrate Mass in the Autonomous Territories of the Palestinian Authority, in front of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He will visit the cave where Jesus was born and pay a courtesy visit to Yasser Arafat in the presidential palace of that city. The Pope will also visit the refugee camp of Deheisha, in the Palestinian territories.

    A culminating point of the Holy Father's pilgrimage, will be the celebration of Mass in the intimate privacy of the Cenacle in Jerusalem, Israel. This in itself represents a great piece of Vatican diplomacy, as the Cenacle is controlled by a Jewish group that normally forbids the saying of Mass in this sacred place.

    While in the Holy City he will visit two of Israel's Chief Rabbis and the President of the country. The following day, John Paul II will go to the Mount of the Beatitudes in Korazim, where he will celebrate Mass for youth in front of the House of Galilee. That afternoon, he will meet Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the same town. He will then proceed to Tabgha, where he will make a private visit to the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves, as well as the Church of Peter's Primacy, after which he will arrive in Capernaum, where he will visit the home of the first Bishop of Rome, St. Peter.

    On Sunday, March 26, John Paul II will meet the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in his office in Jerusalem's Mosque Square. Later he will go to the Western Wall of Jerusalem and then celebrate Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Before his return to Rome, he will meet with Patriarchs and Bishops of Jerusalem's Patriarchy. The farewell will be at Tel Aviv's International Airport on the same day, at 7 p.m. (local time).

    The journey to the Holy Land is the one most longed for by the Holy Father out of the 90 international trips he has made to all the continents of the world. ZE00030606

          

March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 47
NEWS & VIEWS

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