DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     June 30, 1999     vol. 10, no. 126

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Will Begin in Iraq and End in Israel and Palestine

          VATICAN CITY, JUN 29 (ZENIT).- John Paul II surprised everyone on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of Rome, by signing a letter, to be published tomorrow, giving his reasons for undertaking the realization of one of the most cherished hopes of his pontificate: "a Jubilee pilgrimage through some of the places linked to the history of salvation."

          The Pope's pilgrimage will begin in Iraq -- the ancient Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's native land -- or on Mount Sinai, symbol of the Exodus and of God's Covenant with the people of Israel. He will continue by visiting holy places of the New Testament: Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. In other words, as the Pope himself explained, it will be "a journey on the road of divine Revelation."

          "I want to emphasize the exclusively religious and spiritual significance of this pilgrimage; no other interpretations can be attributed to it," the Pontiff said. On several occasions Holy See representatives have made it very clear that the Pope would only undertake this pilgrimage if the countries and factions in conflict in the Middle East do not use it as an instrument. Because of this, as Bishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio in Israel explained, it is hoped that this visit will take place in the framework of renewed peace agreements between Israelis and Palestinians.

          The letter includes the Pope's memories of his 1965 visit to the Holy Land, when he was Archbishop of Krakow.

          Meanwhile the Holy Father oversaw a celebration of unity among Christians In Rome as an Orthodox Delegation from Constantinople joined in festivity for Patrons of the Eternal City on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which is a public holiday in Rome, became a moment of intense Christian unity, both within the Catholic Church, as well as in ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox Church.

          The solemn Mass presided by John Paul II in the Vatican Basilica has been, for many years, the celebration of the year that best reflects Christianity's cohesion. It is mirrored in the traditional offering of the sacred pallium to Metropolitan Archbishops named by the Pontiff over the past year.

          The pallium, a band of white wool with six crosses embroidered in black silk, is the symbol of the ties that unite the Metropolitans with the See of Peter. An Archbishop who heads an ecclesiastical provinces made up of several dioceses, symbolized by the crosses.

          The wool for the palliums traditionally comes from two lambs offered to the Pope of the Feast of St. Agnes (January 21). The wool symbolizes the flock of the Archbishop. The pallium also has two metal pins, originally included for the practical purpose of fastening the pallium. These now symbolize the link with the universal Church.

          On this occasion, 37 Archbishops received the pallium: fourteen from Latin America, two from North America, seven from Africa, four from Asia, and ten from Europe.

    Orthodox Delegation

          The ceremony was characterized by a profound ecumenical spirit. Among those attending the Mass was an Orthodox delegation sent by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. When greeting ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I's envoys, John Paul II prayed that all Christians, "forgetting the errors of the past, will come to the full unity willed by Christ."

          The Holy Father received the ecumenical delegation in private yesterday. During the meeting, Chrysostom Kostantinidis, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Ephesus, who represented the Patriarch of Constantinople, expressed his hope that the new millennium will put an end to the schism of 1054 which has kept Catholics and Orthodox divided for almost one thousand years. ZE99062905 and ZE99062906

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.

June 30, 1999       volume 10, no. 126


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