Friday, January 11, 2008

Pilgrim George Bush Pauses to Pray

ROME, JAN. 11, 2008 ( U.S. President George Bush made time for a stop at traditional Christian pilgrimage sites today during his peace-seeking tour in the Middle East.

Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, accompanied the world leader during his stop in Capernaum. Bush also visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Mount of the Beatitudes.

Father Pizzaballa told the Italian bishops' SIR news agency: "He has come as a simple man. He asked to be alone for a moment. He read the passages from the Gospel about Capernaum and the beatitudes, pausing afterward in prayer.

"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."

The Franciscan said he spoke briefly with the president, who mentioned Benedict XVI'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.

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