Following the episcopate's invitation, "the Holy Father has just given an initial positive response," the bishops' conference affirmed in a statement Monday. "Therefore, it is probable that he will come to Switzerland 20 years after his first pastoral visit to our country."

The meeting in Berne would help prepare for World Youth Day 2005, scheduled for Cologne, Germany.

John Paul II plans to visit Spain this weekend; Croatia and Bosnia in June; Mongolia in August; and then Slovakia. In October, he plans to go on pilgrimage to the shrine of Pompeii, in southern Italy.