John Paul II to Visit Switzerland in June

To Attend National Meeting With Youth

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II will travel to Berne to take part in the first National Meeting of Swiss Catholic Youth on June 5-6, the Vatican press office announced.



A Vatican statement today explained that the Pope will leave by plane on Saturday, June 5, at 9:45 a.m. from Rome and will arrive at the Payerne military airport less than two hours later. A delegation of the Swiss Federal Council will welcome him.

Immediately after, the Holy Father will make a one-hour journey by car to Berne and will stay in Viktoriaheim, a religious house of the Sisters of Ingenbohl.

In the late afternoon, the Pope will go to the city's BernArena skating rink, to meet with the participants of the national meeting of Catholic youth.

"Thousands of young people from all over Switzerland and of all cultural and religious backgrounds will greet him and listen to his message," said a statement of the Swiss bishops' conference.

"On Sunday, June 6, John Paul II will keep another important appointment: a solemn Mass at 10 a.m., in the Allmend field, which tens of thousands of people are expected to attend -- adults, youths and children -- from all over Switzerland and from neighboring countries," the episcopate's press statement continued.

In the late afternoon that Sunday, the Pope will depart from the Payerne airport for the return to Rome.

Within days the Vatican press office plans to publish John Paul II's itinerary in Berne.

The bishops' statement noted that the Pope officially visited Switzerland 20 years ago. The statement also said that the Holy Father has invited four Swiss Guards to participate in his meeting with young people, "to underline his affection for Switzerland and, in particular, for its young people."