"Simple man" Bush pauses to pray in Holy Land

US President George W Bush has made a special stop at traditional pilgrim sites in the Holy Land, taking time to pause and pray during his tour of the Middle East.

Zenit reports Franciscan Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, accompanied Mr Bush during his stop in Capernaum.

The President also visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Mount of the Beatitudes.

Fr Pizzaballa said Mr Bush has come as a "simple man" and asked to be alone for a moment.

"He read the passages from the Gospel about Capernaum and the beatitudes, pausing afterward in prayer," Fr Pizzaballa said.

"He might be the most powerful man in the world, but he came as a pilgrim, in a simple way, to take a break for prayer and personal retreat," he said.

The Franciscan said he spoke briefly with the president, who mentioned Pope Benedict's concern for the Holy Land, all of the Middle East and the Christians who live there.

"But the problem, he told me, has to be resolved in a wider sphere," Father Pizzaballa said.

Pilgrim George pauses to pray, (Zenit 13/01/08)

14 Jan 2008