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Bethlehem residents look forward to papal visit, despite inconveniences
cns ^ | May 23, 2014 | Judith Sudilovsky

Posted on 05/23/2014 2:52:49 PM PDT by NYer

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) -- A long line of cars trailed down the road next to the Church of the Nativity as Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas helped coordinate the placement of the electricity generator for the May 25 papal Mass.

"We are working night and day," he said calmly May 23, as he worked to quickly free up the road while drivers waited patiently in their cars. "I think it will be very nice. The people here are happy."

Pilgrims light candles inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem at Christmas. The church is the oldest in the Holy Land still used for regular worship. In the church's grotto, a silver star marks the site of Christ's birth. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

Sitting in her car with a rosary twisted around her rearview mirror, Jane Zacharia, 37, nervously grasped her steering wheel, admitting that though she was a bit anxious to arrive home to her waiting children, she was also excited about the pope's arrival in two days.

Leaving the square in front of the Church of Nativity, a trio of tickets for the papal Mass in her hands, Nahida Sleiby, 39, said she felt like she was walking on clouds.

"I am happy because he is coming to us," she said, adding that she wanted to attend the Mass because of the message of Christian unity Pope Francis is bringing -- and, he took the name of her favorite saint.

The arrival of the pope is bigger than any of the minor inconveniences the city is dealing with, she said, looking out at the barriers snaking all around Manger Square.

Though the square was full of pilgrim groups and tourists, and the line down to the manger in the Nativity church was packed, Elias Giacamman, whose souvenir story is one of the many around the square, said tourism was down this year. He said he hoped that Pope Francis' visit will give an impetus to pilgrims to come as did the visit of St. John Paul II.

"This is a great spiritual experience for Christians and all Palestinians. We are very fortunate," he added as he took down a welcome banner; city authorities told him only official banners are permitted around the square.

Visitor Eileen Fagan, 50, of California, who was raised a Catholic, was examining the large panels placed around the square juxtaposing biblical Renaissance paintings with modern photographic depictions of the current political situation. Some of the panels replaced Jesus with an image of a Palestinian; she called it "intentionally provocative" and wondered whether they had any place at a religious ceremony.

"It will depend on how the pope handles (the pictures)," she said.

Though this will be a Mass only for local Christians, Sonya Quesada, 54, of Honduras, said she would be able to watch the Mass from the home of a Palestinian friend whose house is on Manger Square.

"It is marvelous," she said, as she left the Church of the Nativity together with a steady stream of other pilgrims. "It is a great privilege to be able to see the Mass by a Hispanic pope here in Bethlehem. It is an unforgettable experience."

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; Religion & Culture

1 posted on 05/23/2014 2:52:49 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...


2 posted on 05/23/2014 2:53:06 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

Until this moment, I never suspected the pope was Hispanic. The article sickened me with its too frequent references tocethnicity. So much for in Christian there is neither New nor Gentile. Democrats ruin all they touch.

3 posted on 05/23/2014 3:51:40 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: Oratam

Is auto complete the work of the devil?

4 posted on 05/23/2014 3:52:39 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: NYer

Why? There are no more anti-semitic people than the Eastern, Russian, Armenian, Ukrainian so called orthodox, and the catholic pope likes to kiss korans.

Who cares if a costumed be-jewelled Joooo hater shows his blasphemous face in Bethlehem?

Catholics and the so-called orthodx shurches all have on feature in common. They all hate the Jooooooos.

Ask one, don’t take my word for it.

Really, ask one.

5 posted on 05/23/2014 4:19:05 PM PDT by the anti-mahdi
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To: NYer

Prayers for Pope Francis.

6 posted on 05/23/2014 5:49:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

Really? Someone, please, tell this idiot that there is no such a country as West Bank. Hopefully, if everything goes well, it will soon be Bethlehem, Israel. As it is only proper, for the birth city of King David.

7 posted on 05/23/2014 6:29:23 PM PDT by Former Fetus (Saved by grace through faith)
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To: Former Fetus
For centuries there was no such conflict. In the 19th century the land of Palestine was inhabited by a multicultural population – approximately 86 percent Muslim, 10 percent Christian, and 4 percent Jewish – living in peace.

Israel/Palestine Conflict>/a>

8 posted on 05/24/2014 5:46:36 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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