Al-Rahi to Travel with Pope Francis to Holy Land in May

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi will travel to the Holly Land next month along with the delegation accompanying Pope Francis, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Bishop Boulos Sayyah, who will be accompanying al-Rahi in his trip, told the newspaper that the Patriarch will be within the delegation traveling with the Pontiff.

“There is a Maronite parish in Palestine that is worth visiting,” Sayyah told the daily.

The pope announced in January a three-day visit to Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem from May 24 to 26.

Asked about objections voiced by several officials over the visit, Sayyah considered it “a pastoral visit,” saying: “Al-Rahi isn't traveling there for a political reason or to normalize ties with Israel.”

“Any Christian in the Middle East has the right to visit the Holy Land.”

Head of Archbishops of Haifa and the Holy Land Maronite Bishop Mousa al-Hajj told al-Joumhouria that there are around 7,500 Maronites in the Holy Land and around 2,500 Lebanese, who were obliged to leave their country in the year 2000.

“Al-Rahi's visit will be merely pastoral... It's a sign of hope... We are all waiting for him,” al-Hajj continued.

Political sources told al-Joumhouria that al-Rahi had planned for this visit since he succeeded Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir in March 2011.



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