VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly general audience on Wednesday that he hoped his trip to the Middle East will bear much fruit for all the troubled region s inhabitants.
Greeting in a special way the Roman Catholics of the region, the pope urged them to join me in praying that the visit will bear much fruit for the spiritual and civic life of all who dwell in the Holy Land.
Addressing all the peoples of those lands, the head of the world s 1.1 billion Catholics said: I am eagerly looking forward to being with you and sharing with you your aspirations and hopes as well as your pains and struggles.
As he did at the weekend, the 82-year-old pontiff again described himself as a pilgrim of peace to the region he will visit for a week starting on Friday, dividing his time between Jordan and Israel with a stop in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.
My primary intention is to visit the places made holy by the life of Jesus, and to pray at them for the gift of peace and unity for your families, and all those for whom the Holy Land and the Middle East is home, he said.
Among the many religious and civic gatherings which will take place over the course of the week will be meetings with representatives from the Muslim and Jewish communities with whom great strides have been made in dialogue and cultural exchange, he said.
May we all be people of hope. May we all be steadfast in our desire and efforts for peace, he added. -AFP