More on Pope Francis’ visit to the Middle East

In addition to visiting Israel, it has been announced by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, that Pope Francis will also visit the Kingdom of Jordan on his trip to the Middle East.  There has been no official announcement yet as to the dates, but as previously reported it is likely to be in the time frame of May 25th-26th.  We have asked the Petra News Agency for confirmation.  

Jordan is held up as an example of Christians and Muslims living in relative harmony with one another…..certainly a rarity in this part of the world.  Not that all is well here certainly, but compared to most other countries in the region it is fairly stable.  

If the trip does take place, it is likely that we will pay a visit to a refugee camp for Syrians who have fled the war in their country and temporarily reside in Jordan.  This would certainly be in keeping with his style of ministering to the most neglected and marginalized among us.  

On Monday, December 2nd, Pope Francis will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome and the subject is bound to come up.


Pope Francis to visit Israel in May?

The rumor mill is in action again, but this time it may be more than a rumor. 

Latest news reports from the Jerusalem Post and several other papers cite CNN news reporter Jake Trapper as stating that inside sources have told him the trip may take place May 25th & 26th of 2014. Since this is the only source we don’t want to take it as fact just yet, but it does seem credible.  Pope Francis is on record as wishing to visit the Holy Land, and Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Pope Francis to Jerusalem when they met last April.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet with Pope Francis next week as he pays an official visit to Italy.   

There is little doubt that whenever the visit takes place, Pope Francis will bring a message of conciliation and likewise little doubt that he will want to visit the Palestinian territories.  So it should be an interesting trip all around.


Themes Announced for Next 3 World Youth Days


Occasionally overlooked is the fact that although the International World Youth Day celebrations are held every 3 years, World Youth Day is actually celebrated on a more regional or local level every year.  

Events are held in various cities that are bit smaller, but no less enthusiastic, than those held every three years.  According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis has just released the themes of the next three World Youth Days, all of which are taken from the Beatitudes:

29th World Youth Day, 2014
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).

30th World Youth Day, 2015
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8)

31st World Youth Day, 2016 (Krakow)
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7)

The one in Krakow will probably draw the most attention, but the others should be of great interest as well.  Look for an event in your are in 2014 or 2015.  Almost every Diocese will have some sort of recognition of World Youth Day.


Pope Francis to visit Israel in March 2014

According to various news sources, particularly Channel 2, Pope Francis plans to visit Israel in March 2014.  It is well-known that he had very good relations with the Jewish community in his native Buenos Aires and a close friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka there.  It is reportedly the hope of Pope Francis that he and Rabbi Abraham can embrace each other in front of the Western Wall as a symbol of unity against anti-semitism.

Pope Francis was invited to visit Israel earlier this year by President Shimon Peres, and then just last week by speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein.  The exact date of the visit, and the itinerary, have not yet been finalized.  

Both of his predecessors, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, paid visits to Israel.  If you plan to visit Israel at a time that coincides with Pope Francis’ visit he may be celebrating Mass…..we will keep you informed.


Marian Day Events in Rome October 12th & 13th

Sunday October 13, 2013 is a day that will see Pope Francis consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as part of the Marian Day celebrations. The original statue of Our Lady of Fatima left Fatima, Portugal on the morning of October 12th and is now in Rome. Various churches were open this morning for Confession and Adoration.  At noon Saint Peter’s Square was cleared of people prior to the arrival of the statue.  At 15:00 the entrance gates will be opened for those who have tickets and then at 17:00 there will be a reception of the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima and a Marian catechesis will be given by Pope Francis.  

The Sanctuary of Divine Love in Rome
The Sanctuary of Divine Love

After that the statue will be transferred to the Sanctuary of Divino Amore for all-night veneration. We expect there to be fairly large crowds here throughout the night.

There will be many Marian groups in attendance on Sunday, including representatives from the following shrines:

Aparecida, Brazil;   Lujan, Argentina;  Lourdes, France;  Czestochowa, Poland;  Banneux, Belgium;   Nazareth, Israel;    Nairobi, Kenya;   Akita, Japan;   Vailankanny, India; and Washington, D.C.

Also in attendance will be a delegation from Medjugorje, including the pastor and other villagers, who were invited to participate. Medjugorje has not been given shrine status, but is currently under investigation and a ruling is expected fairly soon. 

Then on Sunday at 10:30 Pope Francis will preside at Mass and make the Act of Entrustment to Mary.  This is when he will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  It was the request of Our Lady of Fatima that Russia be consecrated to her immaculate heart.  

There has been some heated debate as to whether this was ever done, although Sister Lucia supposedly said that the consecration was accepted.

The events will be televised on EWTN; Salt+Light TV; Vatican TV and others. They will also be time-delayed so that you can watch them during the daytime wherever you live.