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Bishops at Bethlehem University: an oasis of peace


From: Vatican Radio


2014-01-15 09:26:49


(Vatican Radio) The hopes surrounding Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the Holy Land and the challenges faced by Palestinians living in the West Bank were two of the recurring themes encountered on Tuesday by the Bishops from North America, Europe and South Africa, who are currently on a pilgrimage of solidarity to the Holy Land. Susy Hodges is accompanying the bishops on their pilgrimage and filed this report.Listen:


An oasis of peace in a land characterized by conflict. This was the apt metaphor used by the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University to describe the unique and inspirational learning environment of this Catholic university attended by Palestinian students hailing from the local Moslem and Christian communities. During our talks with students they spoke eloquently about their studies and were quick to reject any labels concerning their religious affiliation, saying they were first and foremost Palestinians and proud of it.

But like all the other Palestinians living in the West Bank, they have to contend with the severe restrictions on movement resulting from Israel’s separation wall and the checkpoints. It was shocking to learn that a journey from East Jerusalem to Bethlehem, which previously had only taken 10 or 15 minutes, now can take up to 2 hours and the worst of it is the sheer unpredictability of how long it will take to get through a checkpoint.

Asked how they felt about the upcoming papal visit to Bethlehem, the students smiled broadly and spoke of their delight at his coming. And those hopes and expectations surrounding Pope Francis’s visit to the birthplace of Jesus were also discussed during the Bishops’ other encounters on Tuesday that included a meeting with senior Palestinian official Dr Nabil Shaath and with the Mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun.

Both of them described it as an event of great significance that is bound to exert an influence in the ongoing quest for peace in this Holy Land where so much blood has been spilt.
An oasis of peace in a land of conflict

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine