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A look at the Pope's coming visit to Palestine

2014-05-15

The three day trip to the Holy Land is so packed, that Pope Francis will spend only nine hours on the ground in Palestine. Still his Sunday visit to Bethlehem on May 25 is full of symbolism.

ANTONIO BORROMEO 
Governor General, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)
"The Pope's visit will remind public opinion worldwide that, despite an ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and even nearby in Syria, we still have the Palestinian question.”

His itinerary kicks off with a courtesy visit to the Palestinian president. The Catholic Church plays a key role in nation-building, providing essential services like health care and education in the area.

In fact, the Church established Bethlehem University, the very first higher learning institution in the West Bank. Interestingly, the majority of students are Muslim, and women.

ANTONIO BORROMEO 
Governor General, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)
"In this Catholic university, we are building the future leadership of Palestine, men and women. They learn the values from Christian culture: the values of justice, of peace, and above all, forgiveness.”

In his short visit to Bethlehem, a historically Christian town, the Pope will preside Mass at Manger Square. He will have lunch with Palestinian families, and then visit the Grotto of the Nativity, privately. One of the main highlights, will be his greeting of children from several refugee camps in the West Bank.

ANTONIO BORROMEO 
Governor General, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem)
"In the refugee camps, the majority are Muslim. So this is a demonstration of attention and solidarity for those who suffer. Imagine that the Pope will visit a refugee camp that is over 60 years old. This means that there are two generations of people that were born there and have never left.”

Although no one expects Pope Francis to solve long-standing problems in a few days, experts say his visit will boost morale, especially among Christians. The trip could also spur the stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.


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