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Francis: Politics and Pilgrimage

The Jewish Daily Forward has a detailed rundown on Pope Francis's trip next week to Jordan, Israel and ??? "the State of Palestine," or maybe, just the tradiitonal, Palestinian Authority.  The Pope will travel with his friend from Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, and an unnamed Islamic scholar.

The itinerary seems to have a bit of "on the one hand" (wreath-laying at the tomb of Theodore Herzel), and "on the other," perhaps referring to the "State of Palestine." There are also scuffles over who owns/controls/should have access to the building on Mount Zion where the Last Supper is believed to have taken place, and under which it is believed King David is buried.

The story also reports continuing price-tag attacks.  The Forward story.   The LRB has a brief history of the "price-tag" attacks; with some opinion thrown in.

Haaretz has another take:

"The central point of the visit and the major justification for it is the handshake between the two Christian religious leaders: The head of the Western church, the Catholic from Rome, and the head of the Eastern church, the Orthodox Patriarch from Constantinople (Istanbul). The historic handshake will mark the height of the visit and will take place in front of the empty tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem"  Here.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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I like that he is taking his Rabbi friends from Argentina. That gives him an immediate connection. There is no reason for Francis to get into the politics of it.  He is a peace maker. Not an empire builder. 

"An unnamed Islamic scholar"? It will be intersting to see if he is an academic or an imam attached to a mosque as well and either Sunni or Shia. With the ratehr negative attention Pope Francis has received more recently for his appaent "hands off" approach to the rebuke of the women religious, it will be curius to se how the press ddeals with their now  somewhat less shiny media star approach. 

@ David Pasinski:

"An unnamed Islamic scholar"?

Uh, actually, he has a name: Omar Abboud.

This, by the way, was announced yesterday morning, along with all the other details, and therefore, has been in the news and all over the web since then. 




Francis is still shining. People forget that the Curia always remains very powerful. The fact that Francis made substantial changes in the Vatican bank already is impressive. John XXIII showed us how overbearing the Curia is. There are a lot of things that to consider. As long as Francis sets a good example and prefers the poor, he will remain a shining star.

Sheesh! He hasn't left Rome yet. Can we at least wait until he lands somewhere before deciding that the trip is a triumph of hope or a deflated balloon of failure? Or maybe do something really radical in this day and age, and wait until the trip is over before pronouncing on it?

TB: Perhaps you're right. In this case, the story seems to be 'the before he arrives'. But you can wait till after.

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