Quotes: US MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Joyous pilgrims join pope for Bethlehem mass  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 25/05/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Thousands of cheering Catholic pilgrims welcomed Pope Francis to Manger Square in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday, where the pontiff celebrated mass.

Francis rolled into the square standing in a white open jeep, as local Christians, and others from Europe, Africa and Asia belted out hymns and waved national and Vatican flags.

The main stage set up for the pontiff, who arrived early Sunday by helicopter from Jordan, was adorned with a giant tableau depicting Jesus's birth in Bethlehem.

From dawn, wave upon wave of pilgrims had flooded into the buzzing square, through barriers and metal detectors set up by watchful Palestinian security forces.

Francis had insisted his three-day visit to the Holy Land would be "purely religious", but he flirted with the region's sensitive politics by climbing out of his jeep in Bethlehem before the mass, as his convoy passed near the controversial separation wall erected by the Israelis.

Flanked by anxious Palestinian security guards, he walked over to the eight-metre (26-foot) high concrete barrier topped by a guard tower.

Bowing his head in silent prayer, he paused for several minutes in front of the graffiti-daubed barrier, his right hand and forehead resting against the concrete.

"Pope we need to see someone to speak about justice. Bethlehem look like Warsaw ghetto. Free Palestine," read one bit of graffiti in English.

Pilgrims said they hoped that Francis's presence here could bring real change on the ground in a volatile region.

"His stop at the wall means a lot. We hope acts like this can help stop the wall being completed," said Farid Abu Mohor, a Catholic from nearby Beit Jala -- a town whose agricultural land threatens being cut by the wall's final planned route.

- Yearning for 'real change' -

Nabil Abu Nicola, who had travelled from Nazareth, Israel's largest Arab town, to attend the mass, said he was glad the pontiff's mass did not touch on politics.

"A political understanding of this region is very hard. You need to be here for 20 years before you really understand the conflict," he said.

"The minute politics enters the debate, it immediately divides people, labelling this person an Arab, that person a Jew, and so on," he added.

In the square, revered as Jesus's birthplace, a banner hanging on a mosque read: "The detainees in the occupation's (Israeli) prisons are pleading for freedom and dignity."

Father Dominic Tran, a priest from Vietnam, said he had travelled specially to attend the mass.

"Our country went through a long, terrible war, and we know what it's like, so we pray the pope can bring here the spirit of peace on earth," he said.

Francis is to meet Jewish and Muslim leaders in Jerusalem on Monday in efforts to better interfaith relations.

Mariel Villalobos, who travelled with her family from Francis's hometown of Buenos Aires, said she admired the pontiff's emphasis on dialogue.

"Francis is the kind of person who can change things. He called the Jewish people 'our older brothers,' which is amazing. You have to respect other religions," she said.

As the mass ended, Christian singing rang out above the midday call to prayer emanating from a mosque on the square.

"He's unlike other popes in terms of his humanity, and I hope he can bring real change on the ground," said Ibrahim Handal from Bethlehem.

"Through faith, you can move mountains," he said.


 






  MENA News Headlines
 Jul 23 2014 - Majid Al Futtaim posts USD3.5b H1 revenuesMENAFN
(MENAFN) Dubai-based shopping mall developer Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) posted a 14 percent growth in the first-half revenues, citing growing earnings across its business units, Emirates 24/7 ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Bahrain's BCFC profit up 13 percent in H1MENAFN
(MENAFN) Bahrain Commercial Facilities Company (BCFC) saw a 13 percent rise in consolidated net profit at USD19.1 million in the first half of the current year compared to USD16.88 million in the ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Asian, Western firms to invest in UAE's oilfieldsMENAFN
(MENAFN) Asian and western firms plan to help operate the UAE's biggest oilfields after a deal with oil majors expired this year, according to Arabian Business.A final decision on the winning firms ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Dubai's Arenco awards Chinese firms two contractsMENAFN
(MENAFN) China State Construction Engineering Co (CSCEC), the Asian superpower's third largest construction firm, has been awarded two contracts from Dubai-based based developer Arenco Real Estate to ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Kuwait- All must work to encourage youth to be creative productive: AmirArab Times
(MENAFN - Arab Times) WAIT CITY July 21 (KUNA): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Monday at Seif Palace the top ten winners of Al-Mubader Youth-Support and Small ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Female thief caught red-handed at Grand MosqueArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) A female pickpocket was caught at the Grand Mosque in Makkah with more than SR100000 in cash gold mobile phones and women's bags an online paper reported.Field teams working with ...

 Jul 23 2014 - UAE's Just Falafel to expand in OmanMENAFN
(MENAFN) UAE-based food operator Just Falafel said it plans to expand in Oman in a deal to open 10 new outlets, according to Arabian Business.The new stores will be distributed in several places ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Africas oil amp gas sector continues to show substantial growth despite regulatory uncertaintyMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) JOHANNESBURG South-Africa July 23 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The challenges facing oil & gas companies operating in Africa continue to be diverse and numerous fuelled by ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Central African republic sanctions draw attention recomendationMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) NEW YORK July 23 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- On 21 July 2014 the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African ...

 Jul 23 2014 - Switzerland commits a further CHF 500000 to fight Ebola epidemic in West AfricaMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) BERN Switzerland July 23 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The SDC is allocating CHF 500000 to support Médecins Sans Frontières-Switzerland (MSF-Suisse) in its work to combat ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help