Canterbury's Pilgrimage for Middle East Peace

( [email protected] ) Jan 29, 2004 12:29 PM EST

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – spiritual leader to 70 million Anglicans worldwide, began his six-day pastoral visit to the Middle East to promote peace, Monday, Jan. 26.

Canterbury, who arrived in Amman, Jordan late Sunday night, urged the Episcopal/Anglican churches there to follow the example of Jesus Christ in “building bridges into the suffering of another" and in living at peace with themselves and others in their community.

"We are able at last to recognize that evil is not somewhere out there in the stranger, the enemy, but in our own hearts," he said at the Mass attended by royal family members and leaders of other Christian communities.

Following his visit to several churches and his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Williams visited the biblical site on the Jordan River where it is believed that John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ.

On Tuesday, Canterbury left to the West Bank and Jerusalem upon the request of the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem. While holding talks with both Israeli and Palestinian politicians and religious leaders, the Archbishop called for a new vision of the future to take root.

"If two neighbour communities can begin to become truly civil societies in which law and human dignity are taken absolutely seriously, there is the chance of growth towards a human fellowship in which the presence of God can become visible,” said Canterbury.

"I deplore the loss of yet more lives from communities in which far too much blood has already been spilt. My visit has strengthened the belief that violence and terrorism lend nothing to the search for a better future for the peoples of this region-something for which we continue to work and pray."