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Vatican doesn't fear political use of Holy Land trip
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Despite the risk that Pope Francis' upcoming trip to the Holy Land may be politicized, people shouldn't fear any distorted readings or manipulation of the journey, which is a gesture of peace, said the Vatican secretary of state.

"If the pope's trip could be another important building block in constructing peace, it would be worthwhile going to that martyred region," Cardinal Pietro Parolin said.

The cardinal made his comments in an interview published in a new book in Italian, "Popes of Peace," on the peacemaking role of the pontiffs, especially the soon-to-be Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reprinted the cardinal's remarks in its April 23 edition.

Cardinal Parolin told the book's authors that "every pope who has gone to the Holy Land has done so as 'a pilgrim of peace,' and it can't be any other way." Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel May 24-26.

"Clearly the trip will be interpreted in a political light, too, and there will be those who will want to exploit it for their own agenda," the cardinal said. "But even being as cautious as possible, one mustn't be afraid that a sign of peace have a distorted reading."

"Nothing new is being said when stating that the interminable conflict in the Holy Land has created a situation of perennial instability, not just in the region," making it a "symbol of an inability to bring about true peace," he said.

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