January 24, 2000
volume 11, no. 16
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

John Paul II Himself Responds

    VATICAN CITY, (ZENIT) - The Vatican has officially confirmed John Paul II's visit to Egypt from February 24-26. The purpose of the journey is simple: to visit the places of revelation, and Sinai, the region between the Gulf of Suez and the northern shore of the Red Sea, is the traditionally recognized site of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Today that place is known as Jebel Musa.

    For the Pope, peoples and geography have more value than simply exotic tourism. The witnesses to the great moments of Salvation History -- and today their heirs -- lived in these lands. In the letter John Paul II wrote on June 29 announcing this pilgrimage, he explained that on Mount Horeb -- another biblical name for Mt. Sinai, "Moses received the revelation of God's name, the sign of his mystery and of his powerful saving presence: 'I am Who am' (Ex 3:14)."

    "On the journey through the desert, it was again Sinai that was the setting for the sealing of the Covenant between Yahweh and his people, thus linking the mountain to the gift of the Ten Commandments, the ten 'words' that commit Israel to a life fully obedient to the will of God. In reality, these 'words' are indicative of the pillars of the universal moral law written in every human heart, but they were given to Israel within the context of a mutual pact of fidelity, whereby the people undertook to love God, recalling the wonders he had done in the Exodus, and God guaranteed his enduring kindness: 'I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery' (Ex 20:2). God and the people pledge themselves to each other," the Pope explained.

    "If, in the vision of the burning bush, the place of the 'name' and of the 'plan' of God, Horeb, was above all 'the mountain of faith,' now for the pilgrim people in the desert it became the place of encounter and of the mutual pact, in a sense, therefore, 'the mountain of love.' How often down the centuries, in denouncing the faithlessness of the Covenant people, did the Prophets see it as a kind of 'marital' infidelity, a genuine betrayal of God the bridegroom by the people, his bride (Cf. Jer 2:2; Ezek 16:1-43)," the Holy Father continued.

    While contemplating these passages of revelation, John Paul II admitted in his June letter: "It will probably not be possible for me on my pilgrimage to visit all these places. But I would like at least, please God, to visit Ur, the place of Abraham's origins, and then go to the famous Monastery of Saint Catherine, on Sinai, near the mountain of the Covenant, which in a way speaks of the entire mystery of the Exodus, the enduring paradigm of the new Exodus that was to be fully accomplished on Golgotha," the Holy Father concluded.


January 24, 2000
volume 11, no. 16

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