When Pope Francis visits Bethlehem this May he will be exposed to the occupation wall. He will hear a different version of the impact of the Occupation from the people he meets in Bethlehem. It will not be new information but there is nothing quite like experiencing reality up close, even for popes.
We will have to wait until late May to learn whether or not Pope Francis will use his moral power and the prestige of the Papacy to address the occupation. We will have to trust that the Pope will not confine his reading on this trip to Paul's Letters to the Corinthians.
Indeed, from what we have already learned about the social justice perspective of this Pope, it is even possible that in 1973 Father Bergoglio read more than Paul's letters during his time at the American Colony Hotel. He appears to be a man who is curious and probing.
It is also possible that a few fellow Catholic priests might have come by the American Colony in 1973 to talk with their colleague from Argentina about the harsh realities that were then plaguing the Palestinians. That was a time when the settlement projects were already well underway.
Pope Francis could be an important player in the drama that is unfolding in the fading peace talks. He is certainly well informed of the increasing impact the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is having on Israel's international standing.
In its story of the Pope's May visit, The Times of Israe l reminds its readers:
"Since beginning his papacy last month, Francis I has told Jewish leaders that Catholics and Jews are 'bound by a very special spiritual bond,' and pledged to work to further advance 'the progress there has been in relations between Jews and Catholics since the (1960s) Second Vatican Council in a spirit of renewed collaboration.'"- Advertisement -
We will learn in late May whether or not that "very special spiritual bond" includes a greatly needed stern moral rebuke of Israel from Pope Francis.
Program Education Reminder:
On Friday, March 7, the National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel "Special Relationship" was held at the National Press Club in Washington. The Summit was hosted by four major Washington-based organizations:
The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, the Council for the National Interest, If Americans Knew, and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
A diverse panel of experts examined the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and the impact of lobbying groups on U.S. policy in the Middle East.
The day's program was broadcast live on CSPAN Three. More than eight hours of informative observations, complete with questions from the audience, are now available on CSPAN Three's web site.- Advertisement -