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In the City of Peace

May 12, 2009
b16wallOn Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage made its way to the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. At the wall he inserted a slip of paper with the following prayer:
God of all the ages,
on my visit to Jerusalem, the "City of Peace",
spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike,
I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations,
the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft;
send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East,
upon the entire human family;
stir the hearts of all who call upon your name,
to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion.
"The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him" (Lam 3:25)!
The Holy Father also celebrated Mass in the Valley of Josaphat in Jerusalem, in front of the basilica of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. In his homily, he appealed to Christians, Jews, and Muslims to live together peacefully in Jerusalem "the city of peace." Calling it a "tragic reality", he also lamented the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.
While understandable reasons lead many, especially the young, to emigrate, this decision brings in its wake a great cultural and spiritual impoverishment to the City. Today I wish to repeat what I have said on other occasions: in the Holy Land there is room for everyone! As I urge the authorities to respect, to support and to value the Christian presence here, I also wish to assure you of the solidarity, love and support of the whole Church and of the Holy See.
Pope Benedict expressed his solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land, and movingly noted the importance of their presence:
Standing before you today, I wish to acknowledge the difficulties, the frustration, and the pain and suffering which so many of you have endured as a result of the conflicts which have afflicted these lands, and the bitter experiences of displacement which so many of your families have known and -- God forbid -- may yet know. I hope my presence here is a sign that you are not forgotten, that your persevering presence and witness are indeed precious in God's eyes and integral to the future of these lands. Precisely because of your deep roots in this land, your ancient and strong Christian culture, and your unwavering trust in God's promises, you, the Christians of the Holy Land, are called to serve not only as a beacon of faith to the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom and equilibrium in the life of a society which has traditionally been, and continues to be, pluralistic, multiethnic and multireligious.
A busy day in Jerusalem has drawn to a close for the Pope, and now he prepares to travel to Bethlehem on Wednesday.
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Photo: Reuters

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