Aide: Pontiff Made Peace Resound in Holy Land

Father Lombardi Assesses Papal Pilgrimage

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2009 ( According to a Vatican spokesman, Benedict XVI accomplished the mission he had proposed in the Holy Land: to make peace resound in the religious, social and political spheres.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, spoke of the Pope’s recent eight-day pilgrimage on the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s «Octava Dies.»

“On this last trip the Pope spoke much about peace, as he had promised,» the priest said. «Thirty speeches, one single message, that tirelessly repeated this one theme, with innumerable variations: peace between the Israelis and Palestinians; peace between Jews, Muslims and Christians; peace in the Church, between confessions and rites; peace in society and in the family; peace between God, man and creation; peace in hearts, in the Middle East and in the world. … Peace, peace, peace.»

“He spoke a great deal, but he also listened, and perhaps did so even more,” he added. “Benedict is a listening Pope.

“How many people have spoken to him, how many things they have said to him, with such passion, with such diversity of attitudes and perspectives! How difficult it is to make peace, above all at the central point of all tension: Jerusalem!”

According to Father Lombardi, the Holy Father went to the Holy Land as a pilgrim, but not just to visit the holy places of Christianity: «He also visited those of Judaism and Islam: Yad Vashem, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock. He made the sentiments of all three religions his own, and for this reason asked to come to the holy places. A Christian Pope, but a Pope for all, beyond the divisions. An example to follow.”

The Vatican spokesman recalled that Benedict XVI was the first Pope to visit the Israeli West Bank barrier: «Here too the new pilgrim Pope came, to ask God and men that the walls of division be razed, beginning with those that close and divide hearts. ‘No more spilling of blood! No more terrorism! No more war!’”

“With this cry he ended his pilgrimage of hope, in a crucial moment for the future of peace in the Holy Land,» Father Lombardi concluded. «The Pope did all he could and will continue to do all he can. May God now guide all the efforts of the peacemakers, religious, civil and political.»

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