Pope Francis will pray side by side with Orthodox patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem on May 25 during his visit to the Middle East, the Vatican said on Thursday.
The prayer with the patriarch of Constantinople — the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christian community — will take place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is believed to have died and been buried.
The two are also expected to sign a “joint declaration” during their meeting, which will place on the 50th anniversary of a visit to Jerusalem by pope Paul VI and Constantinople patriarch Athenagoras.
The program for the May 24-26 visit to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories released on Thursday also showed the pope will meet Palestinian and Syrian refugees and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
The visit had been in doubt because of the current Israeli Foreign Ministry strike. Preparatory meetings in Israel last week were cancelled because of the strike.
Earlier Thursday, US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis agreed upon a “common commitment” to eradicate human trafficking.
Francis and Obama, who met for the first time, also underlined the need for international law to be respected in conflict zones around the world. The two urged to bring about “a negotiated solution between the parties involved” in fighting across the globe, the Vatican said in a statement.
Obama told Francis he was a “great admirer” at the start of their talks at the Vatican, which political observers said could be a bid to boost the US president’s support at home among Catholic voters.
Obama was accompanied by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the delegation was led through the Apostolic Palace to the pope’s study by Swiss Guards and ceremonial aides known as Papal Gentlemen.