Quotes: 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.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Aug 29 2015 - Abraaj exists Condor Travel stake to CarlyleMENAFN
(MENAFN) Dubai-based Abraaj Group has announced the signing of an agreement to exit its stake in Condor Travel to The Carlyle Group.The exit, through Abraaj's Latin American Fund, marks the first ...

 Aug 29 2015 - GCC construction contracts to drop to USD194b in 2015MENAFN
(MENAFN) Construction in the GCC will increase in value despite a slight dip in the overall contract awards this year caused in part by cheap oil, according to an industry expert.The man behind the ...

 Aug 29 2015 - Middle East business confidence continues to drop in Q2MENAFN
(MENAFN) Business confidence in the Middle East continued to fall in the second quarter of 2015, but not as quickly as it had in the first three months of the year, according to a new survey.The ...

 Aug 29 2015 - 9 hours battling death at sea off the Libyan coastThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Pakistani teenager Shefaz Hamza spent nine hours at sea clinging to the wreckage of a migrant boat that sank off Libya. By the time the coast guard arrived his mother and ...

 Aug 29 2015 - Qatar Exchange index jumps 3.08pcThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Qatar Exchange (QE) index finished in the green yesterday, after a sharp rise in all sectors. The market gained 3.08 percent or 337.84 points to reach 11,295.46. The market ...

 Aug 29 2015 - Arabs brace for weak oil for rest of 2015The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) A second oil price rout of 2015 has forced Arab Opec members to cut their price expectations for this year, showing they are prepared to tolerate cheaper crude for longer to ...

 Aug 29 2015 - Lebanon- Hezbollah, Christian allies boycott cabinet meetingThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah and allied Christian politicians boycotted a cabinet meeting yesterday, a sign of rising political tensions that have paralysed Prime ...

 Aug 29 2015 - IS kills two generals in IraqThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group killed two Iraqi generals yesterday in the key battleground province of Anbar, as the militants made gains in ...

 Aug 29 2015 - Iraq- At least 11 Daesh Militants Killed in AnbarThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) 11 Daesh militants, some of them belonging to foreign nationalities, were killed in a pre-emptive attack against a hideout of the organization east of Ramadi city, in Anbar ...

 Aug 29 2015 - At least 78 dead in Libya refugee boat disasterThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) At least 76 people have died after a ship carrying hundreds of migrants and refugees sank off the coast of Libya, the Libyan Red Crescent said Friday. The United Nations ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

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

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

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
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


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


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help