Pontiff calls for regional peace, vows to fight anti-Semitism
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Israel on Monday, starting a historical five-day, emotion-laden pilgrimage by calling for peace, an end to anti-Semitism, and freedom of worship and understanding between religions, Jerusalem Post reported
"I come, like so many others before me, to pray at the holy places, to pray especially for peace - peace here in the Holy Land, and peace throughout the world," the pope continued, adding that although the name Jerusalem meant "city of peace," it is all too evident that peace has eluded the region.
"Sadly, anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world. This is totally unacceptable," the pope continued. "Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found, and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language and nation across the globe."
Turning to politics, the pontiff urged both Israelis and Palestinians to find a solution which will allow each side to live peacefully together.
"The eyes of the world are upon the peoples of this region as they struggle to achieve a just and lasting solution to conflicts that have caused so much suffering," he said. "The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
"In union with people of good will everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognized borders," the pope said. "In this regard, I hope and pray that a climate of greater trust can soon be created that will enable the parties to make real progress along the road to peace and stability."
The Pope's trip comes amid lingering suspicions among Jews and Muslims over past actions and remarks by the Catholic spiritual leader. In his greetings, Peres alluded to that rift.
The pope, who heads an official delegation of 40 representatives from the Vatican, will officially be hosted by the Peres during his visit to Israel, as well as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior government leaders.
Following the ceremony at the airport, Benedict will be taken to Jerusalem by helicopter.The trip will be the second official visit by a pope to Israel, following Pope John Paul II's historic visit in 2000.