Holy Father prays for refugees in Bethlehem, encourages reconciliation for peace
Aida Refugee Camp
Aida Refugee Camp
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- On Wednesday afternoon, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, home to Muslims and Christians. The Pope expressed his solidarity with "all the homeless Palestinians who long to be able to return to their birthplace, or to live permanently in a homeland of their own."

At the all-girls’ school inside the refugee camp, he began by thanking U.N. Relief and Works Agency officials for caring for the refugees. He extended a greeting to the teachers and pupils of the school.

"By your commitment to education you are expressing hope in the future," the Holy Father remarked. "Parents have a most important role here, and to all the families present in this camp I say: be sure to support your children in their studies and to nurture their gifts, so that there will be no shortage of well-qualified personnel to occupy leadership positions in the Palestinian community in the future.

"I know that many of your families are divided, through imprisonment of family members, or restrictions on freedom of movement, and many of you have experienced bereavement in the course of the hostilities," he continued. "Please be assured that all Palestinian refugees across the world, especially those who lost homes and loved ones during the recent conflict in Gaza, are constantly remembered in my prayers."

The Pontiff recognized the work carried out by Church agencies in caring for refugees in the Palestinian Territories. He mentioned the work of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, founded some sixty years ago to coordinate Catholic humanitarian assistance for refugees, and the "enormous contribution" made by different members of the Franciscan, making themselves "instruments of peace," in the time-honored phrase attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi.

"How much the people of this camp, these Territories, and this entire region long for peace!" Pope Benedict said. "In these days, that longing takes on a particular poignancy as you recall the events of May 1948 and the years of conflict, as yet unresolved, that followed from those events."

"You are now living in precarious and difficult conditions, with limited opportunities for employment," he added. "It is understandable that you often feel frustrated."

"Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached, the wall," Benedict XVI remarked. "In a world where more and more borders are being opened up, to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges, it is tragic to see walls still being erected."

The Pope reminded those present that great courage is needed if fear and mistrust is to be overcome, if the urge to retaliate for loss or injury is to be resisted. "It takes magnanimity to seek reconciliation after years of fighting," he explained. "Yet history has shown that peace can only come when the parties to a conflict are willing to move beyond their grievances and work together towards common goals, each taking seriously the concerns and fears of the other, striving to build an atmosphere of trust."

"Humanitarian aid, of the kind provided in this camp, has an essential role to play, but the long-term solution to a conflict such as this can only be political," he continued. "I am reminded of those other beautiful words attributed to Saint Francis: "where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon … where there is darkness, light, where there is sadness, joy."

Pope Benedict concluded by renewing his plea for a commitment to cultivate peace and non-violence, "following the example of Saint Francis and other great peacemakers." "Peace has to begin in the home, in the family, in the heart," he expounded. "May peace flourish once more in these lands!"

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 30, 2015

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:26-34


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:26-34