Pope Benedict XVI is planning a trip to Israel and the West Bank - possibly for the second week in May, according to Haaretz. It's still under negotiation, but just the possibility of it is a reminder of how much the world has changed since John Paul II made his pilgrimage there in March, 2000, full of millenial fervor.It was a more hopeful time; the outbreak of a new intifada was still months away. Peace seemed possible.News coverage is focusing on the potential obstacles to a papal trip, such as the beatification of Pope Pius XII. There were obstacles in 2000, too, such as a dispute over a government-sacntioned plan to build a mosque adjacent to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. But John Paul was determined to go, and whatever obstacles there were fell by the wayside. He insisted, also, on a series of dramatic gestures that suggested inter-religious reconciliation.This is a different time, with a different pope. It will be interesting to see if a papal trip to Israel and the West Bank can clear the current squabbles and, if it does, what form it takes.

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

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

© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.