Nuncio Urges the Faithful to Go on Pilgrimage to Holy Land

Local Christians Need the Encouragement, He Says

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 23, 2002 ( John Paul II’s representative in the Holy Land appealed to Christians worldwide to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in part to bolster the morale of the local faithful.

In his message, published in the Dec. 23-24 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, the papal nuncio also appeals to the two sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to respect the right of believers to go on pilgrimage to the holy places.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio in Israel and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, explains that «the Christian world, just like the Jewish and Muslim, must claim in a loud voice the right to be able to go on pilgrimage in total security to the holy places, roots of the faith and the Church.»

«But this voice has been extinguished,» he writes. «In addition to being an act of faith, courage and solidarity, the pilgrimage is a seed of peace and a relaxed presence.»

«In these times, the material needs of Christians in the Holy Land are considerable,» the nuncio continues. «But what they most need is the presence, encouragement, fraternity of pilgrims. Christians’ exaggerated fear to come increases the fear of local Christians to stay: They suffer from a feeling of being abandoned by the Christian world.»

Thanks to Christians who live in the Holy Land and to pilgrims to these places, they are not «cold museums» but «living stones» that «keep faith, hope and charity alive around the places of Revelation and the Redemption,» he concluded.

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