By F. Brinley Bruton, Staff Writer, NBC News
Pope Francis has announced that he will make a pilgrimage to Israel, The West Bank and Jordan in May, underscoring a fresh U.S. push for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
“As of now I ask you to pray for this pilgrimage," he told worshipers in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, according to Vatican Radio.
Pope Francis said he would be visiting Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem May 24-26. While there, he planned to meet with the representatives of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem, together with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
They will celebrate Mass together at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, where the faithful believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
The announcement was made just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up three days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a new bid for peace.
Reuters contributed to this report.