Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), heralded Pope Francis’ announcement that he may visit the Holy Land next year as an opportunity for the “whole world to see the plight of Christians in the area.

Vasko said the pontiff’s presence would also “shine a light on the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land, and hopefully help ease living conditions in the area.” Christians, once a majority in the area, have diminished to less than two percent of the population as restrictions on travel, education and work have increased.

Advertisement

In Palestinian controlled areas, including Bethlehem, what remains of the Arab Christians population are virtual prisoners in their own homes. At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising.

Pope Francis said the visit – his first as head of the Church – would mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The announcement came on the heels of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ recent visit to the Vatican. During that visit, Peres urged the pope to come to Israel, adding, “The sooner you visit the better, as a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”

Peres added, “I turn to you and ask that within your sermons in front of millions of believers in the world you include the hope for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”

Vasko said the Vatican has long supported FFHL programs, which provide education, housing and work opportunities for thousands of Palestinian Christians. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel during their tenures.

Pope Francis accepted Peres’ invitation, but no date has been set for the trip.

Advertisement

7 COMMENTS

  1. The headline is absurd. 1. The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land is not part of the Vatican. It is an ecumenical organization that supports the Franciscans in their work with Holy Land Christians. It is headquartered in the U.S. 2. Fr. Vasco is quoted as hoping the papal visit will shed light on the general condition of Christians in the Holy Land, not attack the IDF or Israel.

  2. The Vatican is saying that in the Palestinian-controlled areas and in other Arab areas in the Middle East, Christians are living in dire distress.
    At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising…

  3. The Vatican is saying that in the Palestinian-controlled areas and in other Arab areas in the Middle East, Christians are living in dire distress.
    At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising…

  4. but the pope is not the head of the church, not my church anyway, as Christ is the head of our church, whom shed His blood for same. We don't consider the vatican to be christian. but rather the roman empire with the pope as head in stead of Ceasar and now under the guise of christianity.

  5. Will the pope pack the Jewish properties to return to Israel, Beis Hameikdash, and the rest of Jewey for what they stole over the generations? Will the Vatican remove the ghetto they created in Rome outside the Vatican. Is the Vatican and pope a role model to teach anyone anything other than christian blunder, sexual abuse of children, poor morality ala Madonna?

Comments are closed.

Loading Facebook Comments ...