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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pope Announces Pilgrimage Plan

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul said in a letter Wednesday that he hoped to make a major pilgrimage during millennium celebrations to Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Holy Land cities ruled by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The pope expressed his desire in a 19-page letter on the spiritual nature of Catholic pilgrimages in the year 2000, which will kick off Christianity's third millennium.

"I have a strong desire to go personally to pray in the most important places which, from the Old to the New Testament, have seen God's intervention," he said in the letter.

But the 79-year-old pope, who has had a series of health problems in recent years, acknowledged the plan was ambitious and may have to be scaled down.

The pope stressed that he wanted to make "an exclusively religious pilgrimage" and made a plea that no other interpretation be linked to his wish.

The last pope to visit the Holy Land was Paul VI in 1964 but no modern pope has visited Iraq, Greece or Syria.