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Pope Francis to Visit Bethlehem

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Pope Francis has announced his first trip as pontiff to the Holy Land, from 24 May to 26 May.

He will visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem in the West Bank, and the Jordanian capital, Amman.

He made the announcement during his weekly Sunday blessing in Vatican City.

The visit is so far his only foreign trip planned for 2014. The Pope will celebrate Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with the ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew.

“In the climate of joy typical of this Christmas period, I would like to announce that from 24 to 26 May, God willing, I will carry out a pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” he told crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square.

The date of his announcement – Sunday 5 January – marks the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between the Pope and the leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

That date is significant because it “commemorates the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople” in 1964, he said.

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