Pope accepts invitation to visit Holy Land says President Peres

Official statement by President Shimon Peres in response to Pope Benedict XVI's acceptance of the President's invitation to visit the Holy Land -
May 11-15
(Communicated by the President's Spokesperson)

President Shimon Peres reacted to Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he has accepted President Peres's invitation to come visit the Holy Land:

"I am delighted that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has responded positively and accepted my invitation to visit the Holy Land. The Pope will be a most honored guest, welcomed and respected by people from all walks of life. His visit will be a moving and important event bringing the spirit of peace and hope. Welcome to Israel."

In his Sunday Mass this afternoon, Pope Benedict said, "From May 8th-15th, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to ask the Lord, visiting the places sanctified by his passage on the earth, for his precious blessing of unity and peace for the Middle East and for all of mankind. I am counting on the spiritual support of all of you, and may God accompany me, support me, and bless with his Grace all those who I meet on my way."

President Peres has instructed the Director-General of the Office of the President, Ms. Efrat Duvdevani, to accelerate the preparations for the Pope's visit with all of the relevant government ministries.