'J'lem the heart of the Jewish people'

Barkat welcomes pilgrims in J'lem for pope's visit; Foreign Ministry opens Web site dedicated to pontiff.

nir barkat great 224 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
nir barkat great 224 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed visitors to Jerusalem on Monday ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the region, scheduled for May 11-15. "On behalf of the residents of Jerusalem, it is my distinct honor to welcome His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, and the thousands of pilgrims from around the world that will be visiting Jerusalem," the mayor said in a statement. "Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people and a special city to more than three billion people of faith around the world. The rich history of Jerusalem continues to bring together great religions and their leaders from many cultures and faiths," the statement continued. "Jerusalem is a true city of peace, where people of all backgrounds may practice their religious beliefs freely." Barkat went on to specifically welcome the pontiff, as well as "each and every pilgrim with a message of perseverance for peace." "With this historic and important visit to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, I know that we have taken one step closer to the religious freedom and tolerance we strive to achieve throughout the world and here in our Holy City. I wish His Holiness and all of our guests a joyous and fulfilling visit to Jerusalem," the mayor concluded. On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry inaugurated a Web site dedicated to the pope's visit. The website, accessible at http://popeinisrael.org.il, is available in eight languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Italian, German and Hebrew). It contains textual and audio-visual information on the Papal pilgrimage, Israel-Vatican relations, Christian communities in Israel and Christian holy sites throughout the country. The site will also provide regular updates throughout the course of the visit, as well as live broadcasts of events during the Pope's pilgrimage, such as the visit to Yad Vashem, masses at the Garden of Gethsemane and at the Mount of the Precipice, and visits to the site of the Last Supper and to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.