DAY THREE: PILGRIMAGE PERSPECTIVES


Bethlehem Arrival:

The variety of the peoples of this land was amply demonstrated by the many people of all faiths -  Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Muslim, each in their characteristic garb - who greeted Pope John Paul II upon his arrival at the Presidential Place in Bethlehem. In his extremely cordial and
deferential welcoming address, Palestinian Authority President Yassar Arafat, in addition to a certain measure of introducing the Palestinian cause into the occasion, nonetheless was not without its religious references to the spirit and patrimony of Jesus Christ in this place of His birth, and to the mission and life of this Pope, especially his efforts for justice and peace.
For his part, the Holy Father reflected on the tremendous spiritual significance for peace and good will among men which Bethlehem represents, as well as the practical hopes of the Palestinian people for the recognition of their right to a homeland and a peaceful existence in this land where the Prince of Peace was born.

Holy Father Visits Dheisheh Refugee Camp

In visiting a Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem, the Holy Father showed his concern for people rather than politics. He sympathized with their lack of basic human needs, hoping his visit would bring them some comfort. While praising the work of UN and Catholic relief agencies, he appealed for “international solidarity” to meet the challenge of their situation. Consistent with his ongoing emphasis on the dignity of persons, the Pope assured the refugees themselves that their dignity was not diminished by their circumstances, as the proximity of Bethlehem should remind them. There the Son of God was born in a stable, and laid in a manger. In becoming a man, he raised the dignity of all human persons, and particularly the poor in sharing their lot.