Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 25, 2009
Pope walks the tightrope of Mideast peace
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
Pope Benedict returned to Rome, saying his eight-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land left him impressed with people’s desire for peace and dialogue.
Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders have a strong desire for cooperation and dialogue — not as something motivated by political circumstances, but seen as a demand of the common faith in God, the pope told reporters on his flight home.
“To believe in the one God who created all of us . . . and to believe that God is love and wants love to be the dominant force in the world implies this necessity of dialogue and collaboration,” he said.
The pope said he also found an encouraging ecumenical climate on his stops in the Holy Land, where a multitude of Christian communities live.
YEARNING FOR PEACE
The third impression, he said, was a yearning for peace.
“There are great problems, and we have seen them and heard about them. But I also saw a profound desire for peace on the part of everyone,” he said.
At his May 20 weekly general audience at the Vatican, Pope Benedict said while it sometimes seems impossible to break the spiral of violence in the Holy Land, “nothing is impossible for God and for those who trust in him.”
“For this reason, faith in the one God — just and merciful — is the most precious resource” of the Christians, Muslims and Jews living in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, he said.
Before boarding his chartered jet in Tel Aviv for the return flight to Rome May 15, the pope reaffirmed his support for the Palestinians’ right to an independent state as well as Israel’s right to exist in “peace and security.”
“Let the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream,” he said. “Let peace spread outward from these lands; let them serve as a ‘light to the nations,’ bringing hope to the many other regions that are affected by conflict.”
The papal visit received a lukewarm reaction in the Israeli media and praise in the Palestinian press.
But Pope Benedict attempted to assure the Israelis of his friendship. “No friend of the Israelis and the Palestinians can fail to be saddened by the continuing tension between your two peoples. No friend can fail to weep at the suffering and loss of life that both peoples have endured over the last six decades.”
Earlier in the day, in a Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the 82-year-old pontiff said the Church can bring healing to the Holy Land.
“The Gospel reassures us that God can make all things new, that history need not be repeated, that memories can be healed, that the bitter fruits of recrimination and hostility can be overcome, and that a future of justice, peace, prosperity and cooperation can arise for every man and woman.”
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