Anglicans and Catholics in the United Kingdom will together pray for Pope Francis during his upcoming visit to the Christians of Bethlehem.
“Many of our Catholic parishes will hold an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at exactly the time when Pope Francis is meeting the Christian communities in Bethlehem itself,” said the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
The Pope will be meeting with the Christians of Bethlehem between 3 and 4pm UK time.
“I do encourage you, please, to use that hour on Sunday 25 May,” the cardinal said, “so that we are in absolute solidarity with Pope Francis and with the Christians of Bethlehem as they meet together.”
Joining with Catholics of England and Wales, Anglican churches across the country will also heed the call from ‘Friends of the Holy Land’ to hold an hour of prayer which will coincide with the exact time that Pope Francis is meeting with Christians in the Holy Land.
The cardinal also spoke of the importance of supporting the Pope’s mission and of “praying for peace” in the Holy Land.
Pope Francis will begin his three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land this Saturday during which he will pay a visit to Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
One of the central highlights of the pilgrimage will be the Pope’s meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem – a meeting which will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagorus in 1964. They will sign a joint declaration and then preside at an ecumenical prayer service at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre together with other Christian leaders.
The encounter between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagorus, he said, “paved the way for the Catholic Church’s commitment to dialogue with the Byzantine Orthodox Churches. The forthcoming meeting should have a similarly encouraging and inspiring impact on our relations and our dialogue at national and international levels today.”
“I hope that the Holy Father and Patriarch Bartholomew will draw attention to the struggling Christian communities of the Holy Land,” said Archbishop Longley.
The archbishop added that the forthcoming meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew “marks a very significant step on the road to Christian unity.”