PAPAL PILGRIMAGE TO ENCOURAGE PEACE IN HOLY LAND
Vatican City, 18 (NE) Pope John Paul II' visit to Holy Land will be "above all a spiritual
pilgrimage", said yesterday Holy See Press Office Director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, during a
briefing to journalists. Navarro-Valls explained a few changes and additions to the Pope's itinerary
and highlighted the elements needed to understand this 91st foreign trip of the Holy Father's
One addition to the Pope's itinerary, said the Vatican spokesman, occurs in Jordan where he will
make a brief personal visit to Al-Maghtas (immersion, or pool) in the Jordan Valley near Jericho.
Also, on Thursday, March 23, the Holy Father will concelebrate Mass with 12 bishops and the
cardinals of the papal party in the Chapel of the Cenacle in Jerusalem, after which he will sign this
year's Holy Thursday Letter to Priests. Navarro-Valls recalled as well the different meetings the
Pope will have with local religious and political authorities to encourage peace in the Mid East.
"The Pope will not present any political formulas, but he will help to create a climate that may find
them," he explained.
Navarro-Valls underscored the importance of using the term "pilgrimage" to describe this trip to
the Holy Land, as well as last month's papal trip to Egypt and Mount Sinai. This term, he stated,
defines the very nature of the trip. The Holy See Press Office Director also explained 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." Finally, he commented that what cannot be overlooked is that this
pilgrimage also includes a visit to the local Church, stressing the Mass to be celebrated on the
Mount of Beatitudes as a singularly important event for Catholics in Holy Land.