Preparations in high gear for upcoming papal visit

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Preparations in high gear for upcoming papal visit

Vatican-Abouna

Several meetings took place at the Vatican this week in preparation for the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land with his first leg of tour to be in Jordan on May 24. The participants in the meetings comprised a delegation from Jordan and Palestine which included Fr. Rif’at Bader, from the Latin Patriarchate and the Church’s official spokesman of the Pope's visit to the Holy Land, Father Tareq Abu Hanna, Jesuit Fr. David Neuhaus, Salesian Fr. Gianni Caputa and Fransiscan Fr. Stephane Milovitch.

The delegation met with the heads of media and liturgical departments, editors-in-chief of Vatican official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, director of the Vatican Television, as well as the official spokesman Father Federico Lombardi who expressed his joy of his upcoming return for the second time to the Holy Land after having acted as an official spokesperson during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

Fr. Bader expressed his pleasure for the interest demonstrated by the Pope and his aides regarding the upcoming visit that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the visit of Pope Paul VI to the Holy Land in 1964,being the first visit by a pontiff abroad. Fr. Bader added that this visit also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Holy See.

During the meeting of the delegation with the media outlets, it was agreed to have Arab journalists from Jordan and Palestine accompany reporters travelling with the Pope on the plane coming from Rome. As is always the case, 70 journalists and media representatives of most famous world media outlets will participate in covering the historic visit.

During the meetings, suggestions were made regarding the slogan of the visit and the accredited photo of the Pope with the dove of peace in the Vatican courtyard. Another proposal was made to adopt the motto “Joy and Hope” within the context of the call for security and stability in the Arab region and the world as a whole. Yet this proposal needs the prior approval of the Council of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land.

Reviews were made of the details of the Masses to be celebrated by Pope Francis in the Kingdom and in the Palestinian territories, especially the Mass which will be celebrated at the Amman Stadium in Al-Hussein Sports City on May 24. It is expected that the participants in the Mass will be patriarchs of the East and bishops from various Arab and friendly countries, as well as an audience estimated at 50,000 people with about 2,000 Jordanian children due to receive their first Communion. This will the third Mass to be held at the Sports City in the wake of the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and the Mass Pope Benedict XVI celebrated in 2009.

The participants lauded the interest shown by official and popular parties in the Kingdom regarding the upcoming visit of the Pope which acquires great interest in world media outlets.The Catholic media highly values the visit due to be undertaken by the Pope to the Baptism Site which will constitute an incentive for tourists and pilgrims from around the world to visit the Site and be blessed with the holy water of the Jordan River.

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