VATICAN CITY, March 9 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI says peace for the Middle East will be on his mind when he travels to Israel in May to walk where Jesus is said to have walked.
The pope, 81, who is expected to be accompanied by an estimated 40,000 Christian pilgrims, is to visit Israel May 11-15, Haaretz reported Monday.
The pilgrimage will mark the second time a pope has visited Israel. The first was in 2000 when Pope John Paul II made his landmark visit.
In public comments Sunday, Benedict said he would pray for "the precious gift of unity and peace for the Middle East and for all humanity" when he travels to Israel, where he is to be greeted by President Shimon Peres and other high-ranking Israel leaders.
Peres Sunday called the pope's pilgrimage an important event that "brings the spirit of peace and hope."