04/03/2005, 00.00
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A pilgrim to the Holy Land for Christ's Jubilee in 2000

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – On the first day of his trip to the Middle East, John Paul II said that his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March 2000— the Great Jubilee Year—was meant to commemorate "the two thousand years since the birth of Jesus Christ".

For seven days the Pontiff's pilgrimage took him to the places that witnessed the life of Jesus Christ.

In this time he met the leaders of Israel and Palestine as well as Muslim and Jewish religious leaders.

The trip itself had begun in Amman (Jordan) and had as its destination the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Here, John Paul II expressed his solidarity with the Palestinian people whose "torment," he said, "everyone in the world could see".

In Jerusalem the Pontiff visited Yad Vashem, the Jewish people's memorial to the Shoah, where he delivered a speech condemning anti-Semitism and expressed his "profound sadness" for the "signs of anti-Semitism among Christians".

For the Pope, condemning the past became a commitment to a future in which "there are no more anti-Jewish sentiments among Christians, and no more anti-Christian sentiments among Jews" but only "mutual respect among those who love the one Lord".

In Jerusalem the Pope experiences the highlights of his pilgrimage: his unforgettable silent prayers in front of the Wailing Wall. Here, he left a message asking for forgiveness for anti-Semitic actions carried out by Christians. 

At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Pope twice kissed Jesus' tomb, calling it the "silent witness of the central event in human history: the resurrection of Christ". (LF)

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