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 30 2014 - Safe haven status boosts investment scope in UAEspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) E political situation in the region has made Dubai into a magnet for families from across the region to set up home and establish regional or global offices for their ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Tech Mahindra eyes expansion in Saudi ArabiaspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Ch Mahindra a specialist provider of connected solutions has announced that it has signed a joint venture agreement with Midad Holding which is a subsidiary of Al Fozan a ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Middle East earns 1 of global market research revenuesspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) E entire Middle East region earned only a meager one per cent of the global market research revenues which indicates the potential for market research that is prevalent in ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Dewa to show smart initiatives at Gitex 2014spanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Bai Electricity and Water Authority or Dewa has announced its participation in Gitex 2014 to be held from October 12-16 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.Dewa will showcase its ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Sico first-half net profit jumps 166spanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Curities & Investment Company or SICO licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain as a conventional wholesale bank announced its financial results for the second quarter of 2014 ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Taqa Arabia eyes Egypt expansionspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Laa Holdings announced that its energy sector subsidiary Taqa Arabia aims to expand its network of fuel stations in Egypt through Taqa oil marketing company.The company ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Real estate to pick up from next week: Industry expertspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Bai Land Department transactions exceeded Dh113b for H1 The real estate market in Dubai is expected to pick-up again from next week after a slowdown during the last couple of ...

 Jul 30 2014 - Memon to hand over five projects in 2014spanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Mpany working on Dh1.Memon Investments has planned to hand over five projects worth more than Dh600 million in the next five months and is also planning to launch five new ...

 Jul 30 2014 - ADFD funding in underdeveloped countries hit Dh61bspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) E development finance institution articulates the UAEs continued commitment to support the development process of emerging countries.An exterior view of power plant in ...

 Jul 30 2014 - UK and US preferred by Arab travellers: MarriottspanKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) E US takes the lead when it comes to bookings with 20 per cent of all reservations closely followed by the UK which accounts for 16 per cent.Marriott International has ...

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

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