HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ON PAPAL PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY
VATICAN CITY, MAR 16, 2000 (VIS) - Following both his
the patriarch Abraham during a ceremony in the Vatican,
and his visit
to Egypt and Mt. Sinai, the Holy Father will make a Jubilee
to the Holy Land from March 20 to 26.
John Paul II is the second Pope to visit the Holy Land.
In 1964, Paul
VI travelled to Amman and Jerusalem where, immediately
arrival, he said: "I bless this blessed land from which
and to which no successor of his, until this moment, has
This apostolic pilgrimage will cover some of the principal
the history of salvation including Mt. Nebo, the place
according to tradition, Moses contemplated the Promised
his death and the Jordan River which marks the entrance
Promised Land of the People of the Covenant, and which
symbol of the passage of all the baptized to a new life.
It was from
here that Jesus began the period of preaching that took
Him to Galilee
During this trip, the Pope will visit two states, Jordan
and go to the Palestinian Autonomous Territories.
The term "Holy Land," as regards the hierarchy of the
embraces Cyprus, the West Bank, Jordan and Israel. Until
Holy Land was under the jurisdiction of the apostolic
Syria who resided in Beirut, Lebanon. In March of that
year, Pius XI
decided that Palestine (which was then under British mandate)
become the responsibility of the pontifical representative
Egypt, who had a residence in Jerusalem.
On February 11, 1948 Pius XII established the Apostolic
Jerusalem and Palestine, which covered Israel, Jordan
and the island
of Cyprus. Now, following the establishment of diplomatic
between the Holy See and Jordan on March 3, 1994, and
between the Holy
See and Israel on June 14, 1994, the apostolic delegation
Jerusalem and the Palestinian Autonomous Territories.
At the present
time there is an apostolic nunciature in Amman, Jordan,
and another in
Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land was
by the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem. Its statutes were
experimentum' on January 27 1992. It is made up of 12
ordinaries from various rites who have jurisdiction in
the Holy Land.
The 'ex officio' president is His Beatitude Michel Sabbah,
of Jerusalem of the Latins.
The Conference of Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions, which
also has 12
members, was erected by a decree from the Congregations
Churches and for Propaganda Fide on March 31, 1967 and
were approved on August 23, 1986. The president and vice-president
are, respectively, Patriarch Sabbah and Archbishop Paul
Baghdad of the Latins, Iraq.
According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, Jordan
square kilometers in size and has 6,300,000 inhabitants
of whom 71,000
are Catholic. It has 2 ecclesiastical circumscriptions,
2 bishops, 75
priests and 260 religious. Israel is 20,700 square kilometers
and numbers 5,970,000 people, of whom 107,000 are Catholic.
9 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 11 bishops, 371 priests,