One of big events in the news of Israel is the arrival of the Pope in Jerusalem. All week long I have been seeing preparations in the old city for his arrival. For example, down in the Kidron Valley a gigantic platform stage was erected, seating set up in cordoned sections interspersed with imported olive trees and tons of gravel so that people in robes don't have to walk on the dirty grimy floor of the Kidron Valley. Actually they've cleaned up everything around the city. One of our tour guides said that the city is not usually this clean, but they are giving it the spit and shine for the Pope.
The pope will actually be fairly close to where I am staying at the Gloria Hotel. My hotel is on Latin Patriarchate Street, and about 100 yards east of the hotel is the Latin Patriarchate, which is the Jerusalem headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. He will also be at the Notre Dame Center, and I'm not really sure what it is, but it sure looks impressive. I think it's some kind of upclass hostel for Roman Catholic pilgrims, with meeting rooms attached, but I will need to do more research on that one.
The pope's arrival is somewhat controversial for complicated reasons that I haven't entirely grasped yet. I think that some are of the opinion that the Roman Catholic Church could have done more to stop the Holocaust. There is also some significant Roman Catholic personage who was involved in the persecution of the Jewish people, and the Jews want the pope to denounce him, but he has not done so.
Since the pope is arriving there are thousands of soldiers lining the streets around the old city, a blimp bouncing around in the sky overhead, and the roads are blocked with buses parked sideways across the width of the roadways. I guess that this is to stop someone from driving up in a car or truck with a bomb or trying to ram the popes automobile. It is a really massive operation, hard to describe how many soldiers I've talked to today as I've gone here and there. I went up high on one precipice to see the view, and I had a soldier follow and check for bombs in the flower pots! When he didn't find any bombs he visited with me a bit which was fine. I respect and appreciate soldiers, and I just took it that he was doing his duty to keep an eye on me. People are not allowed to drive up here to the old city and there are certain roadways blocked to pedestrian traffic as well. Some people are upset because they have to take an alternative route around anywhere the pope is going. I understand why it's necessary. There
I'm not one to be in awe of famous people, so I'm simultaneously amused and stimulated by the whole thing. Whether it was Barack Obama, the Pope, Dan Brown, or Paula Abdul, I would enjoy meeting any of them, but they're all just people who have arrived where they are because they have talents or gifts in their respective careers (I'm not sure I should call the pope's ministry a career, but you know what I mean). The execution of excellence is what I admire and find inspiring, even if I disagree with each of them in various ways in their life philosophy, theology, or lifestyle, it's still possible to appreciate someone's talent and enjoy, respect and appreciate them.