Pontifications

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Benedict as Reagan

posted by David Gibson

That is the trope taken from Pope Benedict’s words today in the Aida refugee camp. The full text is here. And as Cindy Wooden writes in CNS:

While Israeli officials, citing security concerns, forced organizers of the event at the camp to move the papal reception away from the wall, the miles of concrete slicing through the countryside and through people’s yards, gardens and fields were impossible to miss.

And for a person born in Germany, a country divided by a wall for decades, it was impossible to ignore.

“Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached — the wall,” Pope Benedict told Palestinian officials and refugees.

The meeting took place on the basketball court inside the Aida camp’s school directly across the street from the wall, which Israel insists is necessary to protect its citizens.

The Israeli government says terrorist attacks have declined since the construction of the barrier — a series of cement slabs, barbed wire fences and security roads which, if completed as planned, would stretch nearly 400 miles and restrict the movements of 38 percent of residents of the West Bank.

“In a world where more and more borders are being opened up — to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges — it is tragic to see walls still being erected,” the pope said at the Aida camp, home to nearly 5,000 Palestinian refugees.

“How we long to see the fruits of the much more difficult task of building peace,” Pope Benedict said.

“On both sides of the wall, great courage is needed if fear and mistrust is to be overcome, if the urge to retaliate for loss or injury is to be resisted,” the pope said. 

John Allen of The National Catholic Reporter also goes there:

On his lone day in the Palestinian Territories, Benedict delivered the papal equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s famous 1987 “tear down this wall!” speech in Berlin.

Standing in a Palestinian refugee camp located in the shadow of Israel’s towering security wall, Benedict forcefully criticized such barriers between peoples.

“In a world where more and more borders are being opened up – to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges – it is tragic to see walls still being erected,” the pope said.

Later, he said such walls “do not last forever” and “can be taken down” – a fairly clear hint that, in his mind, the wall should come down as quickly as possible.

Aida camp.jpg



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DML

posted May 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm


While I am critical of most of what he says, I am pleased to hear what the pope is saying about the wall today.



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Bryan Cones

posted May 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm


Think Allen is overstating here: B16′s remarks hardly have the rhetorical force of Reagan’s. But it’s nice to see him say something more forceful about that wall.



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Cindy

posted May 13, 2009 at 10:16 pm


That wall is a metaphor of so much.
None of it good.



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Robert

posted May 13, 2009 at 11:00 pm


“On both sides of the wall, great courage is needed if fear and mistrust is to be overcome, if the urge to retaliate for loss or injury is to be resisted,” is not the same as “Israelis who have become the Fascists you hate, tear down this wall.” But it’s a step in the right direction.
Oh, yeah, you guys have some kind of doctrine that your Pope is infallible. But he’s certainly not a Reagan, who wasn’t infallible, either.



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