On March 26, 2009, the Vatican released the Pope's itinerary for his 12th international trip, which will take place May 8-15. As reported earlier, the visit will re-trace the steps of Pope John Paul II's historic visit, howbeit with an additional day allowing for more interreligious and ecumenical meetings.
We will be providing regular roundups of news, commentary and coverage of the papal visit. As expected, most of the stories over the past weeks have to do with the basic logistics of the trip.
- The Israel Foreign Ministry has decided that "In accordance with rules of hospitality and dignity," Israel will not prevent Pope Benedict XVI from wearing his pectoral cross when he visits the Western Wall. (The Boston Pilot March 22, 2009).
- Haaretz reports that Israel will invest NIS 5.7 million in hosting an event conducted by Pope Benedict during his visit to Israel in May:
will conduct a large mass on Mount Precipice, the Nazareth site where Jesus is said to have leapt to avoid an angry mob. The ceremony is expected to draw some 35,000 worshippers.
- The Pope will return home using Israel’s national airline carrier, El Al Airlines. (Focus on Travel News, March 29, 2009).
- Jewish citizens are concerned that security measures might interrupt prayer at the Western Wall (Ynetnews.com):
Gabi Sheinin, one of the Quarter's residents, stated: "Just like the visit of a chief rabbi at the Vatican doesn't cause the Vatican to shut down, we expect the same approach when the pope visits a place holy to the Jewish people."
- The John Paul II Foundation will sponsor a marathon linking the cities of Jerusalem and Rome between April 23 and May 27, thus coinciding with Pope Benedict XVI’s May 8-15 visit to Israel. (Catholic News Agency March 27, 2009).