Israel    POPE PRAYS AT JESUS' BIRTHPLACE
"Bethlehem is the heart of my pilgrimage," Pope John Paul II proclaimed with trembling emotion at an outdoor Mass in Manger Square attended by Yasser Arafat, who was sitting in the front row clutching a prayer book in his hands.
   "It is always Christmas in Bethlehem," the Pope continued. His words drew prolonged applause that echoed off ancient walls, shuttered souvenir shops, new Arab banks and the Mosque of Omar. In deference to the pope's visit, the mosque had delayed the speakers who loudly call the Muslim faithful to midday prayer from its minaret.
   He also travelled by motorcade to the Cenacle near Mt. Zion to celebrate a private Mass at the place where Jesus Christ initiated the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood, a sacrament of Love. This liturgical celebration is the heart and soul of the Christian community as it is from the Eucharist that the Church is born.
   "This is my Body," began the Holy Father's homily, "God's covenant with his People is about to culminate in the sacrifice of his Son. It is with deep emotion that we listen once more to these words spoken here, in this Upper Room two thousand years ago.
   
AP &
EWTN
23/3/00

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