Pope to pray with Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem

AFP , Thursday 27 Mar 2014

Pope Francis blesses the crowd as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, (AP Photo)

Pope Francis will pray side by side with Orthodox patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem on May 25 during his visit to the Middle East in a powerful sign of Christian unity, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The prayer with the patriarch of Constantinople -- the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox -- will take place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus Christ is believed to have died and been buried.

The two will also sign a "joint declaration", the Vatican said of the meeting, which is taking place on the 50th anniversary of a visit to Jerusalem by pope Paul VI and Constantinople patriarch Athenagoras.

The programme for the May 24-26 visit to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories released on Thursday also showed the pope will meet Palestinian and Syrian refugees and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

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