Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday met in the Vatican on Wednesday with a group of Palestinian Catholics, who presented him with traditional Palestinian scarf as a gift.
The 27 faithful from a Bethlehem parish were among thousands attending the pope’s weekly Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square.
At the end of the service, two youths from the group were brought to the pope and draped the checkered black-and-white scarf on his shoulders. Benedict chatted briefly with them while wearing the scarf, which an aide later removed.
Bethlehem is one of the stops on the May 8-15 Holy Land pilgrimage that will take Benedict to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. In Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, he will celebrate Mass and visit a Palestinian refugee camp.
Meanwhile Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov declared on Wednesday that he would urge the pope to avoid meeting with Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghnaim during his visit, due to Ghnaim’s “support for terror.”