Papal visit helps mend gaps between religions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Disputes over religious beliefs have divided nations throughout the centuries. But occasionally a glimmer of common hope can be seen through the veil of hatred. An historic trip this week goes a long way toward binding three religions together at once. Pope John Paul II continued his historic tour of the Holy Land on Wednesday as he visited Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ.

The 79-year-old pontiff became the first Roman Catholic pope to make an official visit to Israel. And while this may easily be lost in the headlines around the world, it shouldn’t be. His visit is monumental.

The last time a pope visited the Holy Land, things were a bit different. During Pope Paul VI’s visit in 1964 he never publicly recognized the state of Israel.

Email newsletter signup

Today, John Paul has embraced the state of Israel and all of its people — Jewish, Muslim and Christian.

The visit has been publicized as mostly a personal visit for the pope, but in reality it has political and religious ramifications.

Hopefully the pope’s visit will help continue to massage the delicate peace process.

The fact remains that several religions — Catholicism, Islam and Judaism — have much more in common than not. And each religion deems many of the sites in the Holy Land as significant to its history.

And as such, this week’s visit should begin to tear down the walls of difference that history has built between the three cultures.

Perhaps one day political and religious strife will be a thing of the past and we can all live, work and worship in harmony.