Francis at the Bethlehem Security Wall

When Pope John Paul II prayed at the Western Wall in March, 2000, I was watching on a big screen in the press room at the Jerusalem convention center. Covering the pope's pilgrimage for Newsday, I wasn't fortunate enough to be in the media pool for that event. Nor was the late Bill Bell, veteran reporter for the New York Daily News.  Bell, a very perceptive and seasoned reporter, absorbed the scene of John Paul at the Wall and, filled with enthusiasm, turned and told me: "That picture is going to be on the front page of every newspaper in the world." He was right: It was the enduring image of the pope's pilgrimage to the Holy Land and, to my mind, one of the key photos from John Paul's entire pontificate.

I wonder if the same will happen for the dramatic image of Pope Francis praying at the graffiti-marked concrete security wall the Israeli government erected in Bethlehem. This is an image [shown here from Osservatore Romano] that strikes home, and it will mean more than anything said during this journey. The fact that it was an unscheduled stop ought to heighten its news value. Will it be on front pages everywhere? Its news value says that it should be.



Paul Moses is the author, most recently, of The Italian Squad: The True Story of the Immigrant Cops Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia (NYU Press, 2023). He is a contributing writer. Twitter: @PaulBMoses.

Also by this author
The Bishops & Iraq

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads