» 04/18/2011, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Holy Week, Israeli and Palestinian border restrictions impedes pilgrims
In the procession on Palm Sunday, about 10 thousand pilgrims less than in previous years. Many Christian Palestinians stranded at the border with Israel. The vice-chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem emphasizes the atmosphere of joy and devotion of the pilgrims, despite difficulties.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - In the Holy Land the influx of pilgrims is down because of the climate of tensions and tightened controls at checkpoints between Palestinian Territories and the State of Israel. Yesterday, around 10 thousand faithful attended the Palm Sunday procession, led by Msgr. Fouad Twal, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem. The number is down from an average of 20 thousand pilgrims who annually travel the path from the Palestinian village of Betfage to the Old City of Jerusalem. Fr. Marcello Gallardo, vice-chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told AsiaNews that "many Christians in Bethlehem and Ramallah did not participate in the procession, due to the few permits issued by the Israeli authorities, on the occasion of Holy Week."
"Despite the difficulties - he adds – there are still many pilgrims and in the coming days many more will flock the holy places of Christ's Passion." The priest said the climate that reigns among the faithful is one of joy and people observe the Easter period with great fervour and devotion. "
Fr. Athanasius Macora OFM, former director of the Christian Information Center (CIC), says that compared to previous years the holy places are less crowded. According to Cic some foreigners have cancelled their reservations because of the tense situation in the Middle East.
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At least 150,000 faithful from all over the world visited Jerusalem and the holy sites in these days, going to comfort the local Christian communities, of Palestinian and Jewish origin. Easter is the hope for all the unresolved problems in the land of Jesus. Six adults of Russian origin baptised.
Pope Francis tells young people that “genuine love” is not a “soap opera”, but Christians’ real identity card
In his homily for the Jubilee of Teens, Pope Francis asked questions and gave answers to the 70,000 present. Stressing the great ideal of love as giving oneself “without being possessive”, he noted that freedom is “being able to choose the good”. He warned young people “who dare not dream,” telling them that “If you do not dream at your age, you are already ready for retirement”. He also received funds raised for the Ukraine, and appealed for the release of bishops and the priests held in Syria.
Odd alliance between the US and Iranian fundamentalists
Washington is still preventing the use of US dollars in transactions with Iranian banks, preventing business with the outside world in spite of the nuclear deal. This way, the US is helping Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, who want to torpedo the agreement in order to maintain their hold on power. Meanwhile, most Iranians hold down two or three jobs just to make ends meet. An unstable and bellicose Iran is a boon for arms sales. A report follows.
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