VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2000 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office
Joaquin Navarro-Valls held a briefing this morning on
Pauls's trip to the Holy Land, which starts on Monday,
March 20. He
listed a few changes and additions to the Pope's itinerary,
highlighted the elements needed to understand this 91st
of the Holy Father's pontificate, and answered questions
One addition to the Pope's itinerary, said Navarro-Valls,
Jordan where he will make a brief personal visit to Al-Maghtas
(immersion, or pool) in the Jordan Valley near Jericho.
is a Greek Orthodox monastery where, since the fourth
Baptism of Jesus has been commemorated.
On Thursday, March 23, the Holy Father will concelebrate
mass with 12
bishops and the cardinals of the papal party in the Chapel
Cenacle in Jerusalem, after which he will sign this year's
Thursday Letter to Priests.
Navarro-Valls also indicated that on March 23, the diplomatic
and at least half of the Israeli Knesset or parliament
will be present
during the meeting between the Pope and the president
Afterwards, when the Pope goes to the Hall of Remembrance
Vashem, there will be two rabbis present and about 20
survivors from the Pope's home town of Wadowice. Inside
there will be
a brief ceremony, following which the parties will go
the Pope will give a speech.
He pointed out that on March 24, while the Holy Father
is meeting with
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, one of the cardinals
in the papal
entourage will accompany a government official to a wooded
will be named for John Paul II.
On Saturday, March 25, the day of the papal Mass in Nazareth,
Father, in his popemobile, will go through a Muslim neighborhood
Nazareth, according to the press office director.
He underscored the importance of using the term "pilgrimage"
describe this trip to the Holy Land, as well as last month's
trip to Egypt and Mount Sinai. This term, he stated, defines
nature of the trip.
Navarro-Valls then listed four aspects which must be born
in mind to
understand the meaning of this trip. He said that the
Pope wishes this
to be a pilgrimage to Biblical sites linked with the life
of Jesus and
a return, in a way, "to the roots of our faith," a continuation
paths he has undertaken in the search for Christian unity
interreligious dialogue, and lastly, a step forward in
the search for
peace in the Middle East.
The fact that this is a pilgrimage, said the director,
great number of personal and private visits which the
Holy Father will
make during his stay. "He wishes to pray in these places
and to bring
the Church with him into the Third Millennium, following
in the steps
of Jesus." This was what was stressed to all the officials
we dealt in preparing for the pilgrimage, said Navarro-Valls.
Saying that the Pope "is going to Israel as a friend of
people," he pointed to the friendly relations which Pope
John Paul has
with the Jews and underscored how, throughout his life
pontificate, "the Pope has told Catholics that anti-semitism
form of racism is a sin." It was during John Paul II's
that the Holy See and Israel established diplomatic relations.
"The Pope is also going to the territories of the Palestinian
Authority as a friend of the Palestinian people," Navarro-Valls
"He is going as the Pope who more than once has spoken
of the right of
Palestinians to a 'homeland'. In his homily the first
he was Pope, the Christmas of 1978, the Pope had already
spoken of his
desire to go to Bethlehem."
Turning to the ecumenical dimension of the Holy Father's
noted that, while the Church was founded here, the complete
Christ intended for His followers does not exist yet.
The Pope, he
said, hopes to pursue the path of ecumenical talks, in
during his meeting in the Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem,
the religious leaders of all the Christian Churches. On
26, the Pope will visit the Armenian Patriarch.
Navarro-Valls then pointed to the inter-religious aspect
of this trip,
highlighting that Jerusalem is a sacred city for followers
three monotheistic religions; Jews, Christians and Muslims.
thinks," he said, "that religions must play a more determining
the efforts made to establish a just and lasting peace"
in the region.
Quoting what he termed "a serious and well done Gallup
poll" on the
Pope's visit to the Holy Land, Navarro-Valls said that
believe that John Paul II is coming to either influence
East peace process or spread a message of peace and dialogue.
Calling it "an exceptional fact," Navarro-Valls affirmed
Pope's trip will include an inter-religious encounter.
A rabbi and a
Muslim religious leader will attend.
What cannot be overlooked, said the director, is that
also includes a visit to the local Church. He underlined
the Mass on
the Mount of Beatitudes as a singularly important event
OP/PILGRIMAGE HOLY LAND/NAVARRO-VALLS VIS 000317 (890)