Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel and the Holy Land

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Israel and the Holy Land will begin tomorrow, May 8-15, 2009.

I’ve set up a special blog devoted to the Papal Pilgrimage as a vehicle for rounding up news, coverage and commentary, and where I’ll be posting from now until the duration of the Holy Father’s journey (upon which time I’ll resume blogging here at American Catholic).

Following are some interviews and links which will set the tone for the papal journey:

  • The website of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land features an interview with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, in which he responds to many questions that have been arisen concerning the Pope’s impending journey – the concerns of Palestinian Christians; Israel’s expected use of the visit for public-relations and whether the Pope should have waited “for a better time”, in light of the Israeli-Palestianian conflict in Gaza.
  • Zenit News Service interviews Father David Neuhaus, vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, on Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage — he expresses the hopes of his congregation for the visit, and the diplomatic perils and pitfalls the Pope will face:

    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.

  • An interview with Rabbi Jacob Neusner on the papal pilgrimage — Neusner was prominently featured in Pope Benedict’s bestselling Jesus of Nazareth (2007), after the Holy Father took a liking to his book A Rabbi Talks with Jesus and pronounced it “by far the most important book for the Jewish-Christian dialogue in the last decade (probably one of the few Jewish books that could boast a blurb by Fr. Andrew Greeley AND the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith).
  • Pope Benedict, The Jews and the State of Israel – a roundup of resources on the topic with contributions by Rabbi David Rosen, David P. Goldman (the newly established editor of First Things, previously writing under the pseudonymn “Spengler”) and a collection of Pope Benedict’s statements to the Jewish community.

I would ask our readers to please join in prayer — for the Pope’s safety on his pilgrimage, as well as the success of his intentions.

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