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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 21:35 GMT
In pictures: The Pope visits Bethlehem
Pope John Paul II visited Bethlehem in the West Bank in one of the most important stops in his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Vatican officials insisted that the Pope's visit to some of the holiest Christian sites was a purely spiritual affair. However, the Pope stepped into the politics of the region by saying the Palestinians had a natural right to a homeland.

Pope at the River Jordan
Pope John Paul looks out at the River Jordan, at the point where many Christians believe Jesus Christ was baptised.

The Pope and Yasser and Suha Arafat
The Pope chats to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, as Suha Arafat, herself a Christian, looks on.

Pope in Bethlehem
The people of the town of Bethlehem come out to welcome the head of the Catholic church.

Mass in Bethlehem.
The papal mass on a makeshift stage outside the Church of the Nativity was attended by 20,000 people.

Pope in Bethlehem
The Pope deep in prayer during mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem.

The Pope prays at the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ

Mass in Bethlehem
A Palestinian woman receives communion. The Pope urged the dwindling Christian minority to stay in the Holy Land.

Nuns waving at pope
Nuns wave the Vatican flag in honour of the Pope's arrival in Bethlehem where he made his plea for a Palestinian homeland

Arafat and the Pope
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat kisses a girl's hand as he and the Pope visit the Dheisheh refugee camp
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20 Mar 00 | Middle East
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Pope pleads for Middle East unity
19 Mar 00 | Middle East
Swastika protest heralds papal visit
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