PATRIARCH SABBAH STRESSES SPIRITUAL CHARACTER FOR POPE'S PILGRIMAGE

Rome, 16 (NE) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, stressed this week the spiritual character of Pope John Paul II' visit to Holy Land. During a press conference held in Jerusalem, Patriarch Sabbah stated that "the Pope will bring to everyone a message of love and peace", warning as well against possible political interpretations of the visit. The Pope's pilgrimage will begin in Jordan on March 20, and will continue in Israel, finishing March 26.

"In a few days we will welcome the Holy Father, and together with the community of faithful living in the Holy Places since the beginning of Christianity, keeping the memory of the divine mystery of salvation, he will fulfill his pilgrimage, he will pray and confirm the Church both local and universal in her spiritual renewal on occasion of the Great Jubilee", the Patriarch affirmed.

Patriarch Sabbah expressed as well his hope that the people in Holy Land will welcome the Pope's message. "We hope", he further said, "that political leaders hear him so that they may foster with more courage justice and peace in this land and in all the region". He also expressed his wish that the pilgrimage may become the beginning of "new times in which Jerusalem will be what God wants, a city of prayer and peace in which all believers may gather to construct peace in the region and in the world".