February 22, 2000
volume 11, no. 37
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CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial for Tuesday, February 22, 2000

The Papal Path of the Pentateuch!

        Tomorrow, after many years of preparations, the Holy Father launches his much-anticipated "Jubilee Journey." While many had hoped it would start in Iraq in Ur near the Tigris and Euphrates where the "Father of Faith" Abraham the patriarch was born and guided by God to leave and head south to a land "flowing with milk and honey," this will not be physically possible because of the political unrest in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. This comes as a great disappointment to Chaldean Catholics in Iraq who had so hoped the Pope would grace their land. Someday he might, but it sadly won't be this year and it is truly Hussein's loss. Some say it was pressure from the United States that prevented the Holy Father from going to Iraq, but we strongly believe it was the Pope's own decision to forego plans because he wants to emphasize to all that this historic Papal Pilgrimage that we have dubbed the "Jubilee Journey" is to be void of politics and strictly spiritual as the spiritual leader of the world.

        Thus he has chosen, as he announced in his Papal Audience last Wednesday that he would begin this Wednesday by walking in Abraham's footsteps in spirit in a special ceremony in Paul VI Hall, a spacious auditorium that seats thousands just off to the left of St. Peter's Square. He is doing so to keep the chronological order intact as he traces Salvation History from Abraham to the Apostle Paul as part of the most ambitious Papal trip ever. He is making a point that this is not just for Catholics but for all God's children. He is also making a point that he will not dwell, delve or bring up local political differences between various factions including Catholics as he reasserts his spiritual intent of this biblical tour.

        The day after he leaves for the "second leg" of his journey, landing in Cairo where he will go from there to Mount Sinai in emphasizing the importance of the Decalogue - the Ten Commandments which still hold as true now as then for they are the basis for all human moral judgments and much of the world has forgotten this. While the Pope will not get political, he will get ecumenical with many denominations throughout his Papal Excursion this Jubilee Year. He will conclude his visit to Mount Sinai at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Catherine where he will participate in a "celebration of the Word." Before that the Bishop of Rome is expected to meet with the spiritual leader of the Sunni branch of Islam Sheikh Sayed Tantawi at the world-famous Al-Azhar University. On Friday there will be a fantastic array of Eastern Rite Catholic dignitaries when the Pope concelebrates a Papal Mass in the Latin Rite with Patriarch Stephanos II Ghattos of the Coptic Church representing over 200,000 faithful in Egypt. Also assisting will be representative bishops from the Armenian, Byzantine, Chaldean, Coptic, Maronite and Syrian rites in full vestments of their respective rite. The Vicar of Christ will follow Mass with another ecumenical celebration later that day at the Coptic Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame with other Christian leaders from the Coptic and Greek Orthodox Churches, Anglican and Protestant denominations. He won't leave for Mount Sinai until his third and final day in Egypt - Saturday.

        The Monastery of St. Catherine is situated at an elevation of 5000 feet and traces its own origins to 527. There the Holy Father will pray at the precise spot where it is believed Moses knelt before the burning bush. The monastery of St. Catherine was for nearly a millennium in union with Rome but sadly after the Council of Florence in 1439 sided with the Greek Orthodox Church. It is hoped reconciliation can begin and a reunion possibly initiated with the goodwill of the Holy Father's visit. The Pope will return to Rome Saturday evening with the Pentatueuch part of his journey completed.

        Though the Pope has expressed that no political intentions or aspirations be placed on his travels, he realizes many leaders will take advantage of his arrivals, but in the case of national leaders it transcends politics and becomes diplomatic. Thus it will be only proper for Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to welcome the Sovereign Pontiff when his plane touches down on Cairo's runway Thursday afternoon. The same holds true when he travels to the Holy Land and leaders of Israel, Jordan and Palestine welcome the Vicar of Christ to the holiest of lands that today is wrought with peril, mistrust and hate. Into this scenario the international Ambassador of Faith, Hope and Charity will descend and we can only hope and pray that the angels will guide, guard and protect him as he ventures into the valley of intrigue in the shadow of the great pyramids and echoes of the pharoahs who were intolerant of God's chosen peoples. Today that intolerance continues, not just in Egypt but all over the world and the Pope brings to the masses the tolerant message of trust and truth in Jesus Christ Who descended from Abraham and because of the Pope there is universal hope. Because of this millions will warmly welcome His Holiness on this "Jubilee Journey" that leads from the Genesis of God's generosity to the Exodus of Exact Laws on the Papal Path of the Pentateuch.

Michael Cain, editor

For previous editorials this year, go to PAST CATHOLIC PewPOINTS

February 22, 2000
volume 11, no. 37

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