Day Two: Bethlehem and Jerusalem
Set to arrive in the Palestinian State at 9.20 local time (2.20am ET, 8.20 Rome) and after starting with a courtesy visit to President Mahmoud Abbas, Francis will celebrate Mass in Bethlehem's Manger Square at 11am, followed by a lunch with Palestinian families – a traveling nod toward his long-stated top priority for this year and next.
Going from the meal to a brief private visit at Jesus' birthplace in the Basilica of the Nativity (3pm), this visit's second meeting with refugees will take place, from which the Pope will be whisked to Israel, where he'll meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I before a 7pm joint service in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
Again, major texts and developments will be here on "Page One," and Page Three – either directly or down the right sidebar – for the rest. In other words, the info's all right here, in real time: if you choose to be lazy or illiterate about accessing it, that's on you – don't blame the house.
In the meanwhile, as relayed there earlier, if you had any sort of reaction to "Who am I to judge?" well, get ready for the sequel: during yesterday's inbound flight – between selfies, of course – the Pope promised the traveling press corps that he'd give his second in-flight press conference on the return trip home Monday night.
Much as Francis' freewheeling style has made the encounter as significant an event as anything on the ground – or, indeed, even more than most of it – it's worth recalling that a Q&A in the media cabin has long been part and parcel of practically every overseas papal visit; in large part, it's the understood "reward" to the outlets that pay the exorbitant fares for a seat on the Volo Papale, which traditionally foots the costs of the entire flight.
With the plane not set to depart Tel Aviv until after 8pm and land in Rome before midnight – that is, mid-afternoon US time, albeit on a holiday – the session already has a working title: "What's he gonna say?" Accordingly, as Francis has publicly griped over the press' more sensational and imaginative tendencies twice in just the last week, it might be wise to expect the unexpected – or, at least, a challenge to the facile caricature that has widely continued to circulate.
With all that in mind, folks, buona domenica a tutti.