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Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

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Excerpts from the addresses of Pope Benedict XVI during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, 8-15 May 2009.

The purpose of my pilgrimage.
I...seek to contribute to peace not as an individual, but in the name of the Catholic Church and of the Holy See. We are not a political power, but a spiritual force and this spiritual force is a reality that can contribute to advances in the peace process.

I see three levels. First, as believers we are convinced that prayer is a real force: it opens the world to God. We are convinced that God listens and that he can act in history. I think that if millions of people — millions of believers — all pray, this is truly a force that influences and can contribute to moving forward the cause of peace.

Second, we are seeking to assist in the formation of consciences. The conscience is the human capacity to perceive the truth, but this capacity is often impeded by particular interests. And to break free from these interests, to open up more to the truth, to true values, is a major undertaking: it is a task of the church to help us to know true criteria, true values and to free us from particular interests.

And so — third — we also speak — no doubt about it — to reason: precisely because we are not a political force, we can perhaps more easily, and in light of the faith, see the true criteria, we can assist in understanding what contributes to peace and we can appeal to reason, we can support positions that are truly reasonable.
(En route to the Holy Land)
Click here to read the full text of the speech.

Jordan and religious freedom.
I come to Jordan as a pilgrim, to venerate holy places that have played such an important part in some of the key events of biblical history.

At Mount Nebo, Moses led his people to within sight of the land that would become their home, and here he died and was laid to rest. At Bethany beyond the Jordan, John the Baptist preached and bore witness to Jesus, whom he baptized in the waters of the river that gives this land its name....

The opportunity that Jordan’s Catholic community enjoys to build public places of worship is a sign of this country’s respect for religion, and on their behalf I want to say how much this openness is appreciated.

Religious freedom is, of course, a fundamental human right, and it is my fervent hope and prayer that respect for all the inalienable rights and the dignity of every man and woman will come to be increasingly affirmed and defended, not only throughout the Middle East, but in every part of the world.
(Queen Alia International Airport)
Click here to read the full text of the speech.

Call to service.
In the footsteps of the prophets, the apostles and the saints, we are called to walk with the Lord, to carry on his mission, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s universal love and mercy.

We are called to welcome the coming of Christ’s kingdom by our charity, our service to the poor and our efforts to be a leaven of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace in the world around us.

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Tags: Middle East Christians Pope Benedict XVI Holy Land Pilgrimage/pilgrims Religious Diversity