S+L logo

Two new reasons for hope in Bethlehem

December 28, 2010
A year ago I visited Bethlehem, where residents can claim to celebrate Christmas every day. For those who have never traveled to the region, the city holds a number of surprises.
For one, Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity (believed to be the place where Jesus was born) and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (containing the sites of both his death and resurrection) stand a mere 8 km apart. The route is not direct, however, and Hebron Road, connecting the two cities, is interrupted by the West Bank separation barrier, also known as the Israeli security fence.
During my six weeks in the Holy Land, I passed through the checkpoint from Jerusalem to Bethlehem with minimal delays, though the reverse trip could take considerably longer depending on the number of vehicles awaiting security checks.
The economic disparity between the two sides is immediately visible. Most areas of Jerusalem look clean and modern, while many unfinished structures in Bethlehem appear to have stalled mid-construction. A period of intensified Israeli-Palestinian fighting, known as the Second Intifada, significantly damaged the economy and frightened prospective tourists. As a result, 45% of Bethlehem residents were unemployed in 2005.
According to this report by the Franciscan Media Centre (provided by H2onews), the situation is improving in Bethlehem for two principal reasons: a "resurgent economy" in the West Bank and an "increase in religious sentiment" brought about by the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East, which convened in the Vatican this past October.
Incidentally, the first person interviewed in the video, Fr. Stephane Milovitch ofm, was one of the many priests who assisted us when we filmed the S+L documentary Within Your Gates. One morning, the Franciscan friar welcomed us into Jerusalem's St. Saviour Church well before dawn so that we could film a sunrise over the Old City.
Related posts
Inside the Pre-Synod with Your Canadian Delegates
Emilie Callan, one of your Canadian delegates at the pre-synodal meeting, talks about her first day in Rome with 300 other youths from around the world. “Young people never won the Nobel prize for b ...read more
Celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph
The Catholic Church celebrates St. Josephs’ feast day on March 19. St. Joseph is the patron saint of husbands, fathers, families, homes and workers. Joseph is also believed to protect pregnant women ...read more
Who will Finish the Eucharist? A reflection on Blessed Oscar Romero
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB gives us a personal reflection on the Blessed Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador. "Who will Finish the Eucharist? A reflection on Blessed Oscar Romero" ...read more
Today marks the first day of the pre-synod meetings where over 300 young people from all over the world, convened in Rome to have a frank conversation with the Pope about the future of the Catholic ch ...read more
“Dying for the truth and living with the truth”- Remembering The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador
A brief reflection on the eight martyrs of the UCA, the struggles many of them faced, and the history of El Salvador. “Dying for the truth and living with the truth”- Remembering The Jesuit Marty ...read more