It is not clear whether, as Palestinian officials here say, the Vatican at first endorsed, then rejected, the site.Tom Heneghan (Reuters' FaithWorld) reports on the "Politics of a papal photo op in Bethlehem":
"When we started to work on this stage, a group from the Catholic church came to check our work. They told us to raise the eastern side of it, to make it more secure for the pope when he stands on the stage," said Monther Ameera, coordinator of his visit to the refugee camp.
But instead, Benedict is due to meet pupils at Aida's United Nations-run school which stands nearby.
I got a look at the wannabe reception theatre this morning during a pre-papal visit tour of Bethlehem with Doug Hamilton, a correspondent in our Jerusalem bureau, and our Bethlehem stringer Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh. The perspective the Palestinians want is striking. The graffiti-filled wall, which Israel says is for security and the Palestinians denounce as oppressive, runs along one side of the theatre. Behind the stage where the pope would stand is a menacing watchtower. The atmosphere is grim.However, he adds:
In fact, the wall will appear on television screens around the world even if Benedict doesn’t stop at the small theatre. It is clearly visible from the schoolyard where he will meet teachers and pupils and it would surprising if the cameras didn’t pan across the scene to show the wall. The graffiti, some of which is quite witty, might not be legible, but the image will certainly come across.