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5/22/2009 5:51 AM
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Thanks to Beatrice on her special site on the Holy Land pilgrimage
for this item and the cover photo.

Benedict XVI in the Holy Land
by Marie-Joëlle Guillaume
Famille Chrétienne

"I sensed a great desire for peace".

On the plane that was taking him back to Rome, this statement from Benedict XVI was not banal: perhaps it is the key to the true fecundity of this trip, that which could change the world because it can change hearts.

What was striking, in the course of Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was the change in perspective that gradually took place. The religious and political expectations by the various sides in conflict all had to do with the personality of the Pope. Each side sought to use him to their own advantage.

But Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas must have experienced, each in his own way - that in the Pope's presence, they were not being judged, but rather, were revealed to themselves, and with this, their desire for peace. Not the peace that the world can give, which is imperfect and even revanchist, but a superior peace, the fruit of justice, of love, of recognition for the other, which is rooted in God.

Benedict XVI clearly places inter-religious dialogas ahead of all other dialogues. [Yes, but in a cultural and spiritual sense, not in a theological sense.]

His gesture in Nazareth, where he took the hand of the rabbi on his right and the Druze on his left, and held them up in his during a chant for peace, condensed the messages of this trip: no 'clash of civlizations', but reciprocal listening; no peace that does not also embrace a common impulse towards the 'merciful God'...

And the peacemaker is the Christian, caught between enemies who believe themselves intractable, but whom he can help to find true joy along the path of reconciliation.

To all the communiies he met, the Pope brought a message of liberation from the sad fatalities of 60 years of conflict: an appeal for the 'universal recognition of Isael' and 'the creation of a Palestinian state' and an assertion that the cycle of violence can be broken...

And above all, the described the presence of Christians as 'fundamental for the Holy Land', and so he asked them to stay, "on this land that Christ sanctified by his presence" - to be the artisans of reconciliation among the children of Abraham.

In doing so, Benedict XVI not only gave strength and sense to their courage - he entrusted the Holy Land to the eschatology of love.

In the footsteps of Christ, he preceded us into Galilee.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/22/2009 5:53 AM]
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