Benedict XVI Greets Holy Land Hosts

«I Will Be Coming Among You as a Pilgrim of Peace»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2009 ( Benedict XVI today offered a special message to residents of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories in preparation for his pilgrimage there that starts Friday.

«I will be coming among you as a pilgrim of peace,» the Pope told them at the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square. And he promised them that he would be praying for peace for their families.

«I wish this morning to take the opportunity through this radio and television broadcast to greet all the peoples of those lands,» the Holy Father said. «I am eagerly looking forward to being with you and to sharing with you your aspirations and hopes as well as your pains and struggles.»

He continued, «My primary intention is to visit the places made holy by the life of Jesus, and, to pray at them for the gift of peace and unity for your families, and all those for whom the Holy Land and the Middle East is home.»

Benedict XVI noted that he will be meeting with representatives of Muslim and Jewish communities, saying that «great strides have been made in dialogue and cultural exchange» with them.

And he had a special message for Catholics of the region: «In a special way I warmly greet the Catholics of the region and ask you to join me in praying that the visit will bear much fruit for the spiritual and civic life of all who dwell in the Holy Land.»

«May we all praise God for his goodness,» he concluded. «May we all be people of hope. May we all be steadfast in our desire and efforts for peace.»

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