On Friday 13th September Professor Bart McGettrick met Pope Francis I, as part of a week spent discussing future support for the Christian communities in the Holy Land. Given the present difficulties this was an intense and rewarding week.
“As Chairman of the International Board of Regents of Bethlehem University I have a responsibility to do what I can to attract funds to Bethlehem. That is a constant challenge - and a rewarding one, “ said Professor McGettrick
In the meeting with Pope Francis he was very keen to indicate that the Catholic Church is to be a poor church reaching out for the poor and the oppressed. A primary role of Christians is to serve the most needy wherever they are and whatever plight they are suffering. It is a suffering Church devoted to those who suffer greatest hardships. This must be the first priority of each of us using whatever gifts we have to offer.
Previous concerns have been centred on matters relating to the survival and education and the plight of refugees in Palestine and Jordan. With some 2 million refugees recently fleeing from Syria to Jordan the scale of the problems has risen exponentially. The areas of greatest need are ever extending, now to include Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey. Resources everywhere are stretched and the areas of need are becoming ever more pressing.
The Christian churches are developing strategies and procedures for this crisis in the Middle East, but the human suffering is certainly acute. Pope Francis urged people to pray earnestly for peace.
Image: Professor McGettrick is seen in robes of a member of the Grand Magisterium of The Equestrian Order of The Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem with the rank of Knight Grand Cross.