Finally, this complicated mission arrives at its original intent. Benedict will send a universal message to his entire flock by praying in Bethlehem, Nazareth and at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial. But he is also there to give particular voice to Christians in the Middle East, whose presence has shrunk over the past century from 20% to 2% of the population. Paradoxically, though, local Catholic leaders in the region appear to be the least enthusiastic about the Pope's arrival, seeing high risks that his presence will further hinder efforts for a Palestinian homeland, putting their dwindling numbers under greater pressure as all sides radicalize further, both religiously and politically. Some of the Vatican's lead diplomats reportedly were pushing to postpone the trip, and security seems to be a real concern. But for Benedict, who has been aching to go to the Holy Land from Day One of his papacy, there was no longer time to wait.