Pope puts note in Kotel, urges peace

Prayer asks God to send "peace upon Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family."

pope for image slot 248 (photo credit: )
pope for image slot 248
(photo credit: )
A day after Pope Benedict XVI urged greater efforts to secure regional peace in speeches at Ben-Gurion Airport and the President's Residence (Beit Hanassi), he reiterated the sentiment in a note which he placed in the Western Wall on Tuesday morning. "God of all the ages," the note began, "on my visit to Jerusalem, the 'City of Peace', spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations, the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world. "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," the note continued, "hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft; send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of all who call upon your name, to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion. 'The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him" (Lam 3:25)!'" In a discussion while walking to the site, the pope told Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz that he had come to pray to God for peace in the Middle East, to which the latter replied, "It's not enough just to pray, but actions are also required to encourage peace and calm." Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov welcomed the pope to Jerusalem, which he called "the spiritual center of all nations on earth, and the eternal capital of Israel." "Your visit here has historical significance for Jews and Christians everywhere. I believe that the tidings of peace you bring will permeate the hearts of millions of Catholics all over the world," he said. "Your call to all the faithful to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem carries great significance for us and will help promote the very peace to which you have referred in your speeches here in Israel." The tourism minister said peace in Jerusalem would bring peace upon the entire earth, closing with the words of King David from Psalms: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Those who love you will prosper." Earlier Tuesday morning, the pope visited the Temple Mount. As a sign of respect, he removed his red shoes to enter the Dome of the Rock mosque, the holiest Muslim shrine in Jerusalem and part of the compound that is Islam's third-holiest site. A priest helped him slip them on after he left the mosque. "The Dome of the Rock draws our hearts and minds to reflect upon the mystery of creation and the faith of Abraham," said the pope at the site. "Here the paths of the world's three great monotheistic religions meet, reminding us what they share in common." He said each believed in one God, recognized Abraham as a forefather, had gained a large following throughout the centuries and inspired a rich spiritual, intellectual and cultural patrimony. Benedict stressed that the connection of all human beings should lead to unity, not divisions. "In a world sadly torn by divisions, this sacred place serves as a stimulus, and also challenges men and women of goodwill to work to overcome misunderstandings and conflicts of the past and to set out on the path of a sincere dialogue aimed at building a world of justice and peace for coming generations," he said. "For this reason, it is paramount that those who adore the One God should show themselves to be both grounded in and directed towards the unity of the entire human family. In other words, fidelity to the One God, the Creator, the Most High, leads to the recognition that human beings are fundamentally interrelated, since all owe their very existence to a single source and are pointed towards a common goal. "Imprinted with the indelible image of the divine, they are called to play an active role in mending divisions and promoting human solidarity." On Monday, the pope began his five-day whirlwind tour of Israel and the West Bank with several speeches and meetings. The pontiff paid tribute at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial to the memory of six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, pledging to work tirelessly to prevent such hatred from recurring in the hearts of mankind again. However, the pontiff's speech stopped short of an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church, producing palpable disappointment among those Israelis who had expected a historic address from the German-born pope on the first day of his visit here. While at the President's Residence, Benedict met the family of Gilad Schalit, who asked the pope to use his influence to prompt the soldier's Hamas captors for a sign that he was still alive. Schalit's father, Noam, told the pontiff that for three years, no one had been allowed to visit his son in captivity. The pope promised to do his utmost to work for the soldier's release. AP contributed to this report