ACN News, Tuesday, 26th November 2013 – MIDDLE EAST
Patriarch Twal of Jerusalem gives a positive report at the end of the Year of Faith – "Date of the Pope's visit to the Holy Land not yet fixed"
by Oliver Maksan
At the conclusion of the Year of Faith in the Holy Land, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, expressed his satisfaction. On Sunday 17th November he told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need in Nazareth (Israel): "It has been a time of grace. Of course the passing on of faith will not end with this year, but will hopefully be continued with greater fervour. We are therefore very grateful to Pope Benedict XVI for his initiative in instituting the Year of Faith."
The Patriarch also expressed his joy that believers from the Palestinian territories and Jordan had been able to attend the Holy Mass on Sunday in Nazareth at the conclusion of the Year of Faith. "I hope they will be taking many stimulating thoughts home with them after this beautiful event." At the solemn divine service conducted in the open more than 7,000 believers from the Holy Land, the adjacent countries and all over the world had gathered. According to the Israeli ministry of tourism about 1,000 pilgrims had come from overseas.
(Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal at Sunday’s Mass for the conclusion of the Year of Faith in the Holy Land © Aid to the Church in Need)
In response to a question from "Aid to the Church in Need" concerning the date for Pope Francis' planned visit to the Holy Land next year, the Patriarch said: "It's certain that he will be coming but not when. We have to wait and see." Pope Francis had been invited by Patriarch Twal, by the President of Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. He had accepted these invitations for 2014. Observers assume that the visit could take place in the first half of the year because the term of office of Israel's President Shimon Peres ends July 2014. Accordingly a date between March and May is seen as probable.
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