Pope Benedict XVI has completed his eight-day pilgrimage of the Holy Land, preaching peaceful coexistence between the peoples of the region. He urged both Israelis and Palestinians to put aside their grievances and divisions.

“Just and peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the Middle East can only be achieved through a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, in which the rights and dignity of all are acknowledged and upheld,” he said.

Before arriving in the region, the Pope declared that he was coming as a “pilgrim of peace.” The Vatican has billed the visit as spiritual rather than political. In fact, from day one his trip was mired with political controversies.