VATICAN CITY, OCT 14, 1999 (VIS) - The following declaration was made
   this afternoon by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin
   "The decision to authorize the construction of a mosque several meters
   away from the historical basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
   worries both the Secretariat of State as well as the Catholic Church
   in the Holy Land, as was authoritatively underlined by the Latin
   Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, and by all the
   leaders of Christian Churches. Pope John Paul II sympathizes with
   everyone and is especially close to the Christians of Nazareth.
   "It is hoped that the Israeli government authorities, considering the
   value that the city of Nazareth has for all of Christianity, will
   known how to assure respect for the Christian shrine and its free and
   peaceful access to pilgrims.
   "It would not be superfluous to mention that such a situation does not
   help in preparing for an eventual pilgrimage by the Holy Father to
   that illustrious shrine, where he should be able to find a city which
   is the symbol of the traditional and centuries-long peaceful
   coexistence between Christians and Muslims, and a stimulus for peace
   which the Holy Land needs so much."