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Full texts from the trip -- click here

Trip analysis:

In Holy Land, pilgrim pope delivers religious, political challenges

Pope Benedict XVI's eight-day visit to the Holy Land was a biblical pilgrimage, an interfaith mission and a political balancing act all rolled into one. It was also a gamble.


The pilgrimage concludes:

On plane to Rome, pope says he found desire for peace in Holy Land

Flying back to Rome after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI offered an instant analysis of his eight-day trip.


Pope urges peace, two-state solution as he leaves Holy Land

Amid billowing Israeli and Vatican flags, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed his friendship with both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, acknowledging the Palestinians' right to an independent state as well as Israel's right to exist in "peace and security."


Roundup: Pope closes Holy Land trip with appeal for peace, message of hope

"Allow me to make this appeal to all the people of these lands: No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war!" the pope said as he departed the Holy Land.


Pope asks Holy Land Christians to unite to preach hope, peace

Standing before Christ's empty tomb, Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians in the Holy Land to bury their differences so they could preach hope and peace with one voice.


A day in Nazareth:

Roundup: Pope nears end of Holy Land trip with visit to Nazareth

Nearing the end of his Holy Land pilgrimage, Pope Benedict XVI came to Nazareth, the city where Jesus grew up, and appealed for the strengthening of family bonds in the region and the world.


Pope, Israeli prime minister discuss peace, dialogue, priests' visas

Peace in the Middle East, Catholic-Jewish relations and the difficulties of church workers in Israel were just a few of the topics discussed when Pope Benedict XVI met privately May 14 with newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.



(CNS/Reuters)

Pope meets religious leaders, highlights God's role in human history

Meeting with Catholic and other religious leaders in Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI returned to a running theme of his Holy Land pilgrimage: that God intervenes in human history, offering people a real reason for hope.


Keep families strong, extend love to others, pope says in Nazareth

Celebrating Mass in Nazareth, the hometown of the Holy Family, Pope Benedict XVI urged the region's people to keep their family bonds strong and to extend that love and acceptance to others, whether Christian or Muslim.


Wednesday in the West Bank:


(CNS/Alessia Giuliani, CPP)

Scarves speak volumes in pope's Holy Land visit

The pope spoke carefully during his Holy Land pilgrimage in May -- so carefully that it occasionally seemed his talks were written by Vatican diplomats. But the image and the message people will carry from his visit may have more to do with scarves than speeches.


Alongside security wall, pope calls for courage to overcome barriers

The miles of concrete slicing through the countryside and through people's yards, gardens and fields were impossible to miss. And for a person born in Germany, a country divided by a wall for decades, it was impossible to ignore.



Pope Benedict XVI and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Bethlehem May 13. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope affirms support for Palestinian state, celebrates Mass in Bethlehem

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the Palestinian territories May 13 and immediately declared the Vatican's support for an independent Palestine.





Pope visits place of Jesus' birth, Bethlehem children's hospital

Pope Benedict XVI knelt in prayer at the spot where tradition holds Jesus was born, then went to a Catholic children's hospital, where he held an infant boy named Elias in his arms.


Fewer than 100 Gazans receive Israeli permits to travel to papal Mass

Israel issued fewer than half the travel permits the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem had requested for Christians from the Gaza Strip to attend Pope Benedict XVI's Mass May 13 in Bethlehem.


Analysis:

In Jerusalem, pope walks into politics of interreligious dialogue

The pope's "pilgrimage of peace" was clearly not immune from the real-world divisions among Christians, Muslims and Jews.


Day two in Israel:

Pope asks Jerusalem's Christians to help make it a city of peace

Standing below the Mount of Olives, where Jesus wept for Jerusalem, and in the shadow of the walls of the city where he rose from the dead, Pope Benedict XVI urged the region's Christians to stay in the Holy Land and work for harmony among its people.



CNS/pool photo via Reuters)

At Western Wall, meeting with rabbis, pope prays for peace

Taking a piece of paper, firmly folding it in four and pushing it deep into a crevice of Jerusalem's Western Wall, Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace in the Holy Land and respect among believers from every faith.


Pope visits Dome of the Rock, urges expansion of interfaith dialogue

In a visit to one of Islam's holiest places, Pope Benedict XVI said Christians, Muslims and Jews have a "grave responsibility" to expand dialogue and mend divisions.


Pope encourages Holy Land's 'little flock' at site of Last Supper

Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the "little flock" of Christians in the Holy Land to persevere as a vital presence in society and a witness to unity in the troubled region.


Roundup: In Holy Land, pope appeals for peace, condemns anti-Semitism

Passing the midpoint of his Holy Land pilgrimage, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open-air Mass in Jerusalem, prayed at the Western Wall and visited one of Islam's most sacred shrines.


The Holocaust memorial:


(CNS/Reuters)

Visiting Holocaust memorial, pope says hatred must never reign again

On his first day in Jerusalem, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and said the suffering of Jews under the Nazi extermination campaign must "never be denied, belittled or forgotten."


American who met pope was only Holocaust survivor from his family

Edward Mosberg cannot forget certain images: A Nazi soldier ripping a baby from his mother's arms and smashing the baby's head against a wall; another soldier shooting through a rucksack to kill a hidden child.


Catholic, 82, who rescued Jews from Nazis excited to meet pope

"Only someone who has lived (through the Holocaust years) can understand what it was like," says Ivan Vranetic. "Today, still, 70 percent of people hate the other because they're from a different religion or different group."


Also on first day in Israel:

Papal dialogue meeting cut short after Muslim cleric criticizes Israel

The pope was able to read the entire text of the speech prepared for his meeting May 11 with organizations involved in interreligious dialogue, but several Jewish leaders walked out later when a Muslim cleric, who was not scheduled to speak, took the microphone.


Pope condemns anti-Semitism, prays for interreligious harmony

Reaching Israel, the country at the heart of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI condemned anti-Semitism and prayed for a new era in which all believers in the one God would live in peace and treat each other with respect and justice.


Israeli police close Palestinian press office in East Jerusalem

A Palestinian press office in East Jerusalem opened to serve journalists during the papal visit was closed by Israeli police in the early hours of May 11.


Sunday in Amman:


(CNS/L'Osservatore Romano, CPP)

Roundup: In Jordan, pope boosts Christian minority, builds bridges to Muslims

Walking a pilgrim's path in Jordan, Pope Benedict XVI energized its minority Christian population and built bridges to the moderate Muslim world.




An Iraqi girl waves a national flag during Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Amman, Jordan, May 10. Dressed in white robes, children from Jordan and Iraq received their first Communion from the pope during the service. (CNS/Reuters)

At first Communion Mass, pope preaches courage in following Jesus

Pope Benedict XVI's only public Mass in Jordan was a liturgy like that found in many parishes in May: It was first Communion Sunday.












Pope keeps Iraqis in thoughts, prayers during Jordan visit

Several times during events May 8-10, the pope praised Jordan's generosity in welcoming an estimated 700,000 Iraqi refugees over the last several years of war and civil strife in the neighboring country.



On pilgrimage, day two:


Jordan's Prince Ghazi Muhammad bin Talal accompanies Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to the new King Hussein Mosque in Amman, Jordan, May 9. (CNS/Reuters)

Visiting mosque, pope says believing in God means respecting others

Acknowledging that much of the history of Christian-Muslim relations has been marked by misunderstanding and tension, the pope said it is faith that calls members of both communities to respect each other and join together to promote the common good.






Pope encourages church in Jordan to make its voice heard

At his first liturgy in Jordan, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the country's Catholic minority to make its voice heard in public life and to join forces with Muslims when moral concerns cross religious boundaries.



Pope Benedict XVI takes in the panoramic view from Mount Nebo. (CNS/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Pope visits ancient biblical site, launches new university in Jordan

Pope Benedict XVI walked a pilgrim's path at one of the Holy Land's most ancient sites, then launched a project for the church's future in the region.




British knights hope papal trip will contribute to peace in Holy Land

In the crowds that welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Jordan and followed him to Catholic schools and churches were several dozen people who have taken an oath to pray for and financially support the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.



The trip begins:

Roundup: Pope opens Holy Land visit with call for tolerance, visit to disabled

The pope was making his first trip to an Arab country, the first leg of a journey that was later to take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories.



A nun kisses the hand of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Regina Pacis center in Amman, Jordan, May 8. (CNS/Reuters)

Updated: Pope says suffering reveals humanity can change people for the better

Pope Benedict XVI's first stop in Jordan was at a church-run facility for people with disabilities, a place he said demonstrates how suffering can change people for the better.





Traveling for hours, Middle East residents come to see pope

Eid Gabriel, a 44-year-old Coptic Catholic from Alexandria, Egypt, traveled nearly 15 hours by bus with a group of nuns and priests. "I asked to come with them, because I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to see him again," he said.


In Jordan, pope backs efforts for 'alliance of civilizations'

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Jordan on the first leg of a Holy Land pilgrimage and praised the country's efforts to oppose conflict and violence between the West and the Islamic world.


Jordanian-Holy See relations a model of collaboration, says priest

When Pope Benedict XVI greeted Jordanian King Abdullah II and Queen Rania May 8, he was meeting descendants of the prophet Mohammed.



The pope waves at the end of a news conference aboard the aircraft on his way to Jordan. (CNS/Reuters)

On plane, pope says pilgrimage can help cause of peace

En route to Jordan, Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped his Holy Land pilgrimage would aid the Middle East peace process by highlighting the value of prayer and convincing people to leave behind factional interests.




Visit to Israel: Leaders know, appreciate pope's teaching on Judaism

As Pope Benedict XVI prepared to visit Israel, Jewish leaders involved in dialogue appeared to be hopeful and not particularly wary about what the pope would say. On the other hand, many members of the Jewish community and Catholics sensitive to their feelings appeared to be holding their breath.


Israeli, Vatican officials deny reports about control of holy sites

Israeli and Vatican officials denied reports that Israeli President Shimon Peres had asked the government to relinquish sovereignty over several holy places as a gesture of good will for Pope Benedict XVI.



A special edition of stamps has been issued in Israel to honor the papal visit. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope, at audience, says he wants to promote peace, unity in Holy Land

Using the media present at his weekly general audience to address the people of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Pope Benedict XVI said that he hoped to promote peace and unity during his eight-day visit to the region.



Some Mideast Christians face restrictions in efforts to see pope

Middle East Christians hoping to see Pope Benedict XVI during his May 8-15 pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories faced some travel restrictions.


Pope asks for prayers for Holy Land trip, peace for region's people

Preparing to visit the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI asked for prayers for his trip, for peace in the region and for the suffering Palestinian people.


Vatican-Israeli commission reports progress on economic agreement

The Vatican and Israel have reported significant progress in negotiations on an economic agreement on church fiscal and property issues, but sources ruled out the possibility that an agreement could be reached before Pope Benedict XVI makes his Holy Land pilgrimage.


Preparations in Jordan ...

Catholics, Muslims hope pope's trip to Jordan sparks renewed relations

"He's coming after Sept. 11, after the American invasion of Iraq -- so many things have changed in the area (Middle East)," said Farouq Jarar, acting director of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman. "Understanding among Muslims and Christians is much more important now than at any time before."



Prince El Hassan bin Talal (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

Jordanian prince sees pope's visit offering hope to Arab people

Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the Middle East can serve as an opportunity to build hope among Arabs while broadening interreligious understanding, said Jordan's Prince El Hassan bin Talal.







... and in the West Bank

Palestinian refugees asking pope to take their story to the world

When Pope Benedict XVI comes to the Aida Refugee Camp May 13, Um Omar will climb to the balcony on the top floor of her building and wave both her hands in a victory sign in his direction.


A look at the church in Israel


Jamal Shehade in the Melkite Catholic church at the House of Grace in Haifa. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

Catholic family in Haifa shares House of Grace with prisoners

Agnes and Kamil Shahade's five children grew up in the House of Grace with newly paroled prisoners helping to take care of them and a never-ending series of people in difficulty knocking on the door. Now, one of them handles public relations and is the chief cook.


Catholics in Holy Land include small Hebrew-speaking communities

At the back of a stone house, in a small chapel decorated with green plants, icons and Easter lilies, two dozen members of Haifa's Hebrew-speaking Catholic community gathered for Mass.


Smiles, kisses and therapy: Haifa home offers care for disabled kids

The creamy stones of the Sacred Heart Home gleam in the sun, and squeals of delight echo in the corridors when Sister Pascale Jarjour enters a room.



Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour of Akko, Israel, is pictured in his office in Haifa. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

Melkite archbishop worries his flock will be left out of papal Mass

While the Melkite faithful -- members of a Byzantine-rite church -- are likely to form a significant portion of the faithful at the papal Mass in Nazareth May 14, the Mass is unlikely to have any significant Byzantine flavor, said Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour of Haifa.






In Israeli public schools, no teaching about Christianity

Daniel Rossing uses one word to sum up the extent of teaching about Christianity in Israeli public schools: none.



Architect Nizar Muammar holds plans at the construction site of a municipal amphitheater on the Mount of the Precipice in Nazareth in mid-April. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

Bulldozers at work in Nazareth; carpenters coming to papal Mass site

With just over three weeks to go before Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to celebrate Mass in a new municipal amphitheater in Nazareth, bulldozers were working around the clock.


Previewing the trip:


Pope's pilgrimage will take message of peace to land of conflict

In many ways, the May 8-15 visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories is the most challenging of the pope's foreign visits to date, one that will test his skills of communication and bridge-building in a region of conflict and mistrust.

Full story


Vatican releases details of papal trip to Holy Land (complete itinerary)

On his first trip to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI will meet with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders, stop at the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and visit a refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Full story


Holy Sepulcher order helps cover cost of papal trip to Holy Land

U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, grand master of the order, said the knights and dames had given about $325,000 to Pope Benedict and the same amount to Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem to help cover the expenses of the visit.

Full story


Pope Benedict to find Holy Land changed since predecessor's visit


Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel and the Palestinian territories when, despite stumbling blocks in the peace process, the jubilee year celebrations seemed to buoy the Holy Land with a booming tourism industry.

Full story


Pope's trip certain to advance Catholic-Jewish ties, rabbi says

The pope's May 8-15 trip, which includes five days in Jerusalem, will demonstrate the Vatican's respect for the state of Israel as part of Jewish identity, said Rabbi David Rosen.

Full story


As papal visit nears, issues in Israel, Palestinian lands are unclear

Less than three weeks before Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian territories, many issues remained unresolved.

Full story



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