|About Us||Holy Land Sites||Holy Land Tours||Christian||Photos||Community||Travel Tips|
Travelujah_ / Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Land / Why is the Pope visiting the Holy Land on such short notice?
Why is the Pope visiting the Holy Land on such short notice?
The upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI is being planned at unprecedented speed. Normally a visit takes a year if not longer to plan. Speaking with Father Eunam Kelly, who oversees pilgrimage for the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, I asked him why the Pope was coming here on such short notice.
He returned my question with "Do you have children?"
"Yes, I have 4" I answered.
"How old are they," he asked.
"They are 17, 14, 12, and 8, " I replied.
"Do you want to see them?", he asked.
"Of course", I answered,
"Well, the Holy Father wants to see his children too." he explained, "its that simple." he said.
He explained that this visit was pure and simple - the Pope wants to visit with the Christian communities of the Holy Land, the most significant of which are located in the Galilee, Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, situated just southeast of Jerusalem in the Palestinian Territories. The Christian population in the territories have been declining, particularly since the second intifada while in Israel, the Christian population as actually grown. Nevertheless, the Christian communitities are not strong economically, and the Vatican wants to do what it can to raise the awareness and further the interests of these communities. Israel's Christian population numbers approximately 140,000 people. Their demographic patterns including birthrate are similar to the local Jewish population, however, while the Jewish population has benefited from strong growth from immigration over the years, the Christian community growth has been limited to natural birth rates for the most part. As a result, their numbers as a percentage of the total population, have declined. In 1948, the Christian community totalled 34,000 and represented almost 3% of the total population of Israel, while in 2009,the Christian population, as a percent of Israel's total population, declined to just over 2.0 percent.