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Pope Wants to Visit Jerusalem to Deliver a Message of Peace

March 7, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Pope John Paul II said Wednesday that he was prepared to go to Jerusalem as soon as circumstances allow, “to deliver a message of peace together with the Jews and the Moslems.”

The pontiff made the offer at the conclusion of a meeting at the Vatican with representatives of Christian churches in the Middle East.”

The closing declaration issued at the meeting called for “justice for the Iraqi, the Kuwaiti, the Palestinian and the Lebanese peoples” through dialogue, without which there can be no justice.

It upheld “the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to a homeland and to choose freely their future” and the right of the Israeli people “to live within secure borders and in harmony with their neighbors.”

The declaration was signed by the pope and his visitors.

A papal visit to Jerusalem would be the second in nearly 30 years and would spotlight the Vatican’s failure so far to extend diplomatic recognition to the Jewish state.

The pope gave no sign in his discourse to the Christian dignitaries that recognition was in the offing, though he referred to Israel by name.

But non-recognition was no barrier to Pope Paul VI’s visit to Jerusalem in the early 1960s. Jordan still occupied-East Jerusalem, and Pope Paul crossed into the Israeli sector by way of the Mandelbaum Gate, long since dismantled.

The Arab bishops who met with the pope this week insisted that all contacts between Christians and Moslems should be under their supervision, for otherwise Christianity in the Middle East “would definitely be assimilated to the Western world.”

The closing declaration urged Christians in the Middle East to conduct themselves with respect for that region and to “assure our Jewish and Moslem brothers that we wish to maintain with them a sincere and fruitful dialogue.”

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