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5 issues facing Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Published on May 25, 2014 11:05 AM
Pope Francis prays in front of the Jordan river in Bethany beyond the Jordan River, the site of Christ's baptism, west of Amman, Jordan, on May 24, 2014. - PHOTO: EPA

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Pope Francis's first visit to the Holy Land as head of the Roman Catholic Church is fraught with potential pitfalls but will see him in his element as the "people's pope" and guardian of the downtrodden.

Here are five issues the Argentinian pontiff will encounter during his visit to the Palestinian Territories and Israel:

1. Israeli-Palestinian relations

The Vatican has dubbed this trip a "pilgrimage of prayer", but Francis's every word and gesture will be scrutinised, particularly following the collapse last month of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and his call on Friday for a "just and lasting solution to the conflict".

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