Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fr. David Neuhaus on Israel's Hebrew-Speaking Catholics and Pope Benedict's pilgrimage

Zenit News Service interviews Father David Neuhaus, vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, on Pope Benedict's pilgrimage -- on the reaction of his congregation:
... the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community, like the Arabic-speaking Catholic community, is preparing, first and foremost, to greet our pastor, with joy and enthusiasm. We are preparing ourselves to listen and watch, to learn and to open our hearts. We are full of hope that the Pope will encourage us and help as understand ever more profoundly our vocation as a "little rest" in this land that is too often characterized by conflict. We are very proud that Pope Benedict has insisted that he is coming first and foremost to visit us and to be with us.
On the risks of coming to the Holy Land at this particular moment in time:
He will be encountering the two national narratives at their most painful -- when he visits Yad Vashem (the memorial to the victims of the Shoah) and Aida Camp (a camp of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War). The risks are clear -- the Pope seeks to come as a pilgrim in prayer for peace and unity. Many are waiting to hear from him support for their cause. The Pope seeks to come as a pastor. Many are going to scrutinize every word and every movement in order to derive a political conclusion.

The visit will have to be choreographed with absolute skill so that the Holy Father's intention might be preserved in a context in which many will be trying to pull him into the quagmire of conflict and narrow interests. The Pope will need the courage of the prophets of old in their confrontation with the powers that be in order to say his word of truth and accomplish his act of visiting this land as a pilgrim of peace, unity and love. May the prayers of Pope John Paul II strengthen Pope Benedict as he walks the path of his predecessor. May this pilgrimage build on and further the wonderful pilgrimage of his predecessor.

Read more of Zenit's interview with David Neuhaus.


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