Thursday, May 7, 2009

Papal Circus on the Road Again

The Pope and his entourage of 2,000 “journalists” are on the road again, making a royal progress through the Middle East. Party!

An Excellent article by Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times.

Jordan first stop on papal Holy Land visit

Edward Eid is a Catholic and general director of Greek Orthodox schools in Jordan. Such a role might seem contradictory for him, but in Jordan, where Christians account for less than 4% of a population of about 6 million, interdenominational mingling is a way of life. Eid has a VIP ticket to the pope's Sunday Mass, but he's not going, feeling a closer allegiance to his Muslim countrymen than to the Holy See.

"We Christians paid the price for what the pope said in 2006," he said. "Before he says anything about the Middle East, he should know how Christians live here."

The Christian population has been shrinking through economic emigration and over the rise of Islamic conservatism. For every church that is built, one mosque, or possibly two, pops up in the same neighborhood. After the pope's comments three years ago, he said, 15 Muslim families threatened to remove their children from Eid's schools; rancor and bruised feelings spread between the Christian village where he grew up and the neighboring Muslim town. Tribes, customs and family connections fixed things, but there remains an air of unease.

"The pope's a smart fellow and I was astonished. His comments were like a bullet out of a gun. You can't take them back. Even the Orthodox Church told me, 'Leave us out of the pope's visit,' " Eid said. "But I'm using the visit for the benefit of Jordan. The pope travels with something like 2,000 journalists. Jordan will be shown all over the world."

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