Pope Francis says his three-day visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories this weekend would be 'strictly religious', reports the Catholic News Service.
At the end of his weekly general audience yesterday, Pope Francis told an estimated 50,000 people in St Peter's Square that he was about to make the trip.
The first reason for going, he said, 'is to meet my brother, Bartholomew,' the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. The meeting launched a new era of ecumenical cooperation and dialogue.
'Peter and Andrew will meet once again, and this is very beautiful,' the Pope said. Pope Francis is considered the successor of the Apostle Peter and Patriarch Bartholomew the successor of his brother, the Apostle Andrew.
The Pope said the second reason for his trip is 'to pray for peace in that land that suffers so much.'
He asked the people in the square to pray for the success of the trip.
Pope Francis is scheduled to leave the Vatican early May 24 and fly to Amman, Jordan, for a full day of meetings, a public Mass and an encounter with refugees and people with disabilities.