VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis says his upcoming trip to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank is "strictly religious" and aimed at praying for peace in the region.
Francis sought to temper expectations for his trip during his weekly Wednesday general audience.
The Argentine Jesuit leaves Saturday for a three-day visit to the Holy Land, where he will meet with Syrian and Palestinian refugees, the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the chief rabbis of Israel and the mufti of Jerusalem. The main reason for the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.
Francis will meet in Jerusalem with the current Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, whom he called his brother.