Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 23/03/2000 info:
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The Pope at the Great Rabbinate
and at the President of Israel

Jerusalem, March 23, 2000

As soon as the Pope finished the celebration of the Eucharist at the Holy Cenacle he was driven in the Popemobil to the seat of the Great Rabbinate of Israel at Hechal Shlomo in new Jerusalem. Here he was welcomed by the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau and Shephardi Chief Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron all three went straight for a private meeting between them. As soon as they came out they presented him with a bible on which there is inscribed as dedication the verse for from prophet Micah:"All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever" (4,5) and "Greater are you when you come in lesser when you come out" in reference to Pope John Paul's coming to the Holy Land.

The Pope left the Great Rabbinate across the roads of New Jerusalem and went to the Presidential Palace for an official visit to the president of Israel Ezer Weizman. On arrival he was welcomed by a fanfare and on the playing of "evenu shalom" by the band present the Pope and the President entered the palace where the pope was offered a cup of tea. Then they went to the main hall where he was welcomed for this official reception. Then the speaker said: "distinguished guest the president and his wife are most pleased to welcome you at the residence of the President in Jerusalem the capital of Israel" this was pronounced in hebrew, english and latin. The prelude 8 of Claude Debussey was played by the solo harpist of the Israel Philarmonic Orchestra.

The president then pronounced his welcoming speech in which after welcoming His holiness he introduced those present among them the wife of Yitzhak Rabin. The president then pointed out that the Pope will certainly pass in history as the person who unites the hearts of humanity. The visit to Jerusalem can contribute for the peace among Jews, Christians and Moslems. The President then recalled the fact that he himsedlf had fought in different wars but in the past 20 years he is all out for peace. He referred also to the agreements arrived at with the Palestinians and he hopes this will also be true for the discussions going on with Lebanon and Syria. The president made then reference to the fact that the Pope's visit to Yad Vashem was an important step in this trip to the land of Israel. With these words the President again extended his welcome to Israel.

The soloist again offered some relaxing music on her harp. The Pope then delivered his speech.


After this speech the song "From the summit of Mount Scopus" was performed as a conclusion of the ceremony. From here the Pope left for Yad Vashem.


Created / Updated Thursday, March 23, 2000 at 23:17:03