(MENAFN - Arab News) Pope francis is on a weekend trip to the holy land aimed at marking an improvement in catholic-orthodox relations but which will also see him navigate some of the region's most intractable conflicts from israeli-palestinian tensions to the civil war in neighboring syria.
the following is the schedule for the pope's visit:
sunday may 25
9:30 a.m. (0630 gmt 2:30 a.m. edt): arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in the west bank town of bethlehem where the pope will meet with president mahmoud abbas and other palestinian leaders.
11:00 a.m. (0800 gmt 4:00 a.m. edt): holy mass in bethlehem's manger square near the site where jesus is believed to have been born.
1:30 p.m. (1030 gmt 6:30 a.m. edt): lunch with palestinian families in bethlehem.
3:00 p.m. (1200 gmt 8:00 a.m. edt): private visit to the grotto of the nativity inside the bethlehem basilica the traditional birthplace of jesus.
3:20 p.m. (1220 gmt 8:20 a.m. edt): pope greets palestinian children in deheisheh refugee camp.
3:45 p.m. (1245 gmt 8:45 a.m. edt): farewell ceremony ahead of departure from bethlehem.
4:30 p.m. (1330 gmt 9:30 a.m. edt): arrival ceremony at ben gurion international airport outside tel aviv.
5:45 p.m. (1445 gmt 10:45 a.m. edt): arrival at mount scopus just outside jerusalem's old city.
6:15 p.m. (1515 gmt 11:15 a.m. edt): private meeting with the ecumenical patriarch of constantinople bartholomew i and signing of a joint declaration.
7:00 p.m. (1600 gmt 12:00 p.m. edt): ecumenical meeting in the basilica of the holy sepulcher to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting in jerusalem between pope paul vi and patriarch athenagoras i followed by dinner with patriarchs and bishops at the latin patriarchate in jerusalem.
monday may 26
8:15 a.m. (0515 gmt 1:15 a.m. edt): visit to the grand mufti of jerusalem muhammad ahmad hussein at the al-aqsa mosque complex in jerusalem's old city followed by a visit to the dome of the rock. the mosque compound is built on judaism's holiest site where the biblical first and second temples are believed to have stood and is considered the third holiest site in islam.
9:10 a.m. (0610 gmt 2:10 a.m. edt): visit to the western wall the only remains of the biblical second temple and the holiest place where jews can pray.
9:45 a.m. (0645 gmt 2:45 a.m. edt): laying of a wreath at jerusalem's mount herzl cemetery where israeli leaders and soldiers are buried.
10:00 a.m. (0700 gmt 3:00 a.m. edt): visit to the yad vashem holocaust memorial.
10:45 a.m. (0745 gmt 3:45 a.m. edt): visit to sephardi chief rabbi yitzhak yosef and ashkenazi chief rabbi david lau in jerusalem.
11:45 a.m. (0845 gmt 4:45 a.m. edt): meeting with israeli president shimon peres at his official residence.
1:00 p.m. (1000 gmt 6:00 a.m. edt): private audience with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu.
3:30 p.m. (1230 gmt 8:30 a.m. edt): private visit with bartholomew i on the mount of olives just outside jerusalem's old city.
4:00 p.m. (1300 gmt 9:00 a.m. edt): meeting with priests and seminarians in the church of gethsemane at the foot of the mount of olives.
5:20 p.m. (1420 gmt 10:20 a.m. edt): holy mass with the ordinaries of the holy land and the papal suite in the room of the cenacle in jerusalem.
8:00 p.m. (1700 gmt 1:00 p.m. edt): farewell ceremony at ben gurion international airport ahead of departure for rome.