ROME (JTA) — Pope Benedict XVI said he would bring a message of "justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love" when he visits the Middle East next month.
In his Easter message Sunday, the pope said reconciliation of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was "difficult but indispensable" for security in the region.
The pope, who turns 82 on Thursday, delivered his message to tens of thousands in St. Peter’s Square as well as to millions in a broadcast audience worldwide.
"Reconciliation — difficult but indispensable — is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said.
The pope travels to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority May 8-15.