Pope Francis will visit the southern Italian city of Bari on July 7th for a day of reflection and prayer for peace in the Middle East.
The head of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, told journalists on Wednesday that the Pope intends to invite the heads of other Churches and Christian communities in the region to the ecumenical encounter.
A statement from the press office said the Pope is urging people to prepare for this meeting through prayer, recalling “the dramatic situation in the Middle East which afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith”.
Third visit to Puglia in five months
Bari is located on the Adriatic coast in Italy’s south-eastern Puglia region. Its airport is named after Pope John Paul II – the Karol Wojtyla airport – and its ancient basilica dedicated to Saint Nicholas is an important place of pilgrimage for both Catholics and Orthodox.
It will mark the Pope's third visit to the region in five months, following on from his trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in March, to pray at the tomb of Padre Pio, and to the towns of Alessano and Molfetta in April to recall the legacy of former bishop Don Tonino Bello.