BOB ABERNETHY: Religious and political leaders have expressed high praise for Pope John Paul II's careful diplomacy and stamina during his millennial-year pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There was some disappointment among those who wanted the pope to favor their side, but, in general, John Paul's careful even-handedness commanded widespread respect.
Back at the Vatican, at his weekly audience this past week, John Paul thanked his hosts in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories for their hospitality and said his trip had been an unforgettable experience. From Israel, correspondent Kim Lawton has a report on the aftermath of the pope's visit to the Holy Land's Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
KIM LAWTON: The images were poignant and enduring: Pope John Paul II standing at the Western Wall, the most sacred spot of Judaism; inserting a prayer of forgiveness for the suffering of the Jews; turning to leave and then turning back again for a few more minutes of prayer and reflection. For many Jews around the world, it was a watershed moment in a watershed trip.
Rabbi DAVID ROSEN (Anti-Defamation League, Israel): The visit of the pope is really the culmination and the personification of the transformation that has taken place in Catholic-Jewish relations.
LAWTON: Jewish leaders were especially pleased by John Paul's visits to the Western Wall and to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and also by his meetings with Israeli government officials, which they believe highlighted the Vatican's official recognition of the Jewish state.
Rabbi A. JAMES RUDIN (American Jewish Committee): This is the pope at the twilight of his papacy. This is the culmination, the capstone of his ministry. And this pope has done more for positive Catholic-Jewish relations than any other pope in history. That's clear.
LAWTON: Some Jews were disappointed the pope did not go further in his remarks about the Church and the Holocaust, but those involved in interfaith dialogue say this visit demonstrates the great strides that have been taken.
Rabbi ROSEN: Healing is a process, and in some cases, no matter how much correct and good medication you give, you still have to wait and give the time for that process to move along.
LAWTON: Another emotional high point was the pope's visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. After a public Mass, John Paul made a second, unscheduled return for private prayers.
Church leaders say the ecumenical cooperation surrounding the pilgrimage laid the groundwork for better relations between the various Christian denominations here. Many have been at odds with each other for centuries, often over the care and custody of the holy places.
Overall, the region's tiny Christian minority considered the pope's Holy Land pilgrimage a ringing success, although some were frustrated he didn't spend more time with them. There was disappointment in Kana, where the Bible says Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. The town had begun preparations to welcome the pope, but his final schedule did not include a stop here. Local Christians felt slighted.
Mr. OSAMA GERAISY (Christian Resident of Kana): When somebody tells you that you're going to get a very, very, very precious present, and all of a sudden you won't get it, how do you feel? How do you feel about it? You know, this is the way we felt.