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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Pope Francis to lunch with poor Christian families in Bethlehem

From the Website of Vatican

Pope Francis to lunch with poor Christian families in Bethlehem

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will have lunch with local Christian families after celebrating holy Mass at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity this Sunday. The Pope will visit the town of Jesus' birth on the second day of his May 24-26 journey to the Holy Land.   
In an interview published on the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s website, Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali says the Pope wanted to share his lunchtime meal with poor families.

“Pope Francis wants to spend a little time with the poor families in the Bethlehem and their children to listen to them, permitting them to feel his closeness and tenderness. He did not want to have lunch with the cardinals, bishops and politicians, but with poor families,” the Bishop says.

Bishop Shomali admits the selection process presented a “tough choice” and explains that a special committee was charged with determining “categories” of poverty.  He points out “our poor are those who suffer for humanitarian reasons, political and social.”
Link to the Latin Patriarchate article:
According to Bishop Shomali, the families chosen represent the painful realities faced by many in the Holy Land today.  One family comes from a northern Galilee town that was evacuated and razed in the war of 1948  and “although there have been court decisions, Christian Arab inhabitants were never able to return to their village,” he says.
Another family from the Beit Jala area near Bethlehem is among 58 families whose land will be inaccessible to them if Israel’s separation wall is built there as planned.
“There are ongoing negotiations with the legal authorities that we hope will have a positive outcome.”

Another family “represents those who struggle for a family reunion,” continues Bishop Shomali: “One spouse living in Jerusalem, the other in the territories. Under Israeli law, it is difficult for the Palestinian spouse to obtain a permit for permanent residence in Jerusalem.”

Another family, he adds, “has a son sentenced to life imprisonment, another a son exiled to Gaza for political reasons.”
Tracey McClure

Vatican Website



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