POPE JOHN PAUL RELIVES JUBILEE PILGRIMAGE TO MOUNT SINAI
 
   VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2000 (VIS) - Due to the rainy weather, today's
   general audience took place in both St. Peter's Basilica and the Paul
   VI Hall where, in the presence of more than 23,000 pilgrims, the Holy
   Father gave his weekly catechesis in Italian, as well as summaries in
   other languages, and concluded with multi-lingual greetings.
 
   The Pope focussed on his just-completed pilgrimage to Egypt "in the
   footsteps of Moses." Expressing his "great joy" at the trip, he stated
   that "the culminating moment of this extraordinary experience was the
   trip to the foot of Mount Sinai, the Holy Mountain; it is holy because
   on it, God revealed Himself to His servant Moses; He revealed His
   name, and He gave His people His Law, the Ten Commandments."
 
   John Paul II renewed his gratitude to the president and people of
   Egypt "for their warm welcome and hospitality," to the "fervent
   Catholic community - a small group but ardent in their Gospel
   witness," and to Coptic Catholic Patriarch Stephanos II Ghattas. He
   also underscored his encounters with the leaders and faithful of other
   Churches and ecumenical communities, the Great Sheikh of Al-Azhar, His
   Holiness, Patriarch Shenouda III of the Orthodox Coptic Church and
   Archbishop Damianos and the monks of St. Catherine's Monastery.
 
   The Holy Father then focussed on the Law which God gave to Moses and
   to His people on Mount Sinai, saying that "the Ten Commandments are
   the law of life and freedom. They are written on the human heart as
   the universal moral law, valid in every time and place. They save man
   from the destructive forces of selfishness, hatred and falsehood. To
   keep the Commandments is to be faithful to God, but it is also to be
   faithful to ourselves, to our true nature, and our deepest
   aspirations."
 
   "Mount Sinai," said John Paul II in closing, "reminds me today of
   another mountain which, God willing, I will have the joy of visiting
   at the end of this month: the Mount of the Beatitudes in Galilee. ...
   The Beatitudes are the Gospel completion of the Law given on Sinai."
   AG/PILGRIMAGE SINAI/... VIS 000301 (350)