Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage visit to Israel is creating quite a bit of press coverage. Unlike Pope John Paul II visit a few years ago, Benedict XVI seems to be on a personal/church/religious mission rather than on a mission of interfaith understanding, bridge building and politics.
Many interesting stories accompany his visit:
Trembling Before the Pope (the story of the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, and his view of Catholics in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)
A Muslim cleric and head of the Palestinian Sharia court, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, gave an unscheduled speech today at an interfaith gathering attended by the Pope. Once the Pope heard a translation of the Sheikh’s remarks he walked out, perhaps fulfilling one of Patriarch Twal’s concerns. Read another take on this story on CNN.
The Pope’s comments after visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust musuem, instigated many comments. Read a few in Ha’aretz, al-Jezeera, BBC, the Forward and YNet.
I hope that the Pope’s visit leads to greater respect, understanding and peace between peoples and a willingness of all to turn away from hate and intollerance.
UPDATE: A Holocaust Survivor says that the criticism of the Pope is exagerated (YNet).