Holy Land visit welcomed

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has welcomed the Pope’s announcement of his intended trip to the Holy Land.

Speaking from Ammam in Jordan – one of the Pontiff’s intended stops in May, Patriarch Fouad Twal expressed the hope that the visit there and to Bethlehem and Jerusalem would create a message of peace while emboldening Christians to remain in the Holy land.

“The visit is intended to consolidate the good relations that bind the Muslims and Christians of these Arab countries since ancient times, as well as contribute to intensifying calls for mutual respect and redoubling efforts to respect for religious pluralism in an atmosphere of love and cooperation,” the patriarch said.

On the issue of the Christian presence in the Holy Land, which has been undermined by ongoing conflict in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, Patriarch Twal said: “Our presence, I think is one of the aspects he will mention in his speech to ask us to be courageous and to stay.

“To stay in this land, to live in this land, to die in this land: the Holy Land is worthy to stay, to suffer and to die for,” he stressed.