(Vatican Radio) Peace in the Holy Land was always an aspiration very dear to Pope John Paul II who was particularly concerned about the continuous drain of the indigenous Christian community from the land of Christ’s birth. Violence and economic difficulties have forced tens of thousands of them to flee abroad. Christians Arabs now account for less than 2% of the population – where once they were a significant minority.
In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul’s finally fulfilled one of his greatest dreams: to walk the path of Jesus in the Holy Land. His apostolic pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Jerusalem was covered by the international media and seen by millions the world over, bringing a powerful message of solidarity with the local Christian community, but also one of dialogue and reconciliation between Christians, Muslims and Jews.