Personally Confirms Plan
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's preparations for his trip to the Holy Land are under way, as he himself confirmed today in a meeting with a Jewish delegation from the United States.The Pope was visited today in the Vatican by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.According to sources from both Jerusalem and Rome, the Holy Father's first pilgrimage to Israel and the surrounding region will take place during the second week of May.
He confirmed his intention to make the visit, despite doubts cast on the plan by the conflict in Gaza and the scandal caused by Lefebvrite Bishop Richard Williamson.Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York told the Pontiff, "The promised land awaits your arrival."And noting that his guests were scheduled to visit the Holy Land after their time in Italy, Benedict XVI said: "I too am preparing to visit Israel, a land which is holy for Christians as well as Jews, since the roots of our faith are to be found there. "
Indeed, the Church draws its sustenance from the root of that good olive tree, the people of Israel, onto which have been grafted the wild olive branches of the Gentiles. From the earliest days of Christianity, our identity and every aspect of our life and worship have been intimately bound up with the ancient religion of our fathers in faith."