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Palestinian, Israeli pilgrims share faith, locale in Field of Mercy


  • A zucchetto is thrown at Pope Francis as he arrives with World Youth Day pilgrims for a July 30 prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • World Youth Day pilgrims pray as Pope Francis leads benediction during a July 30 prayer vigil as part of World Youth Day at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- At least for a few minutes at World Youth Day, the physical barriers between Palestinian and Israeli communities were nonexistent.

A group of Palestinian Catholics and a contingent of Hebrew-speaking Catholics from Israel found themselves in the same sector at the Field of Mercy for the closing programs of World Youth Day.

The two groups talked for a short time after arriving on the open fields the afternoon of July 30, members of both delegations said. The time together was cordial and offered a chance to meet people of the same faith living in neighboring communities who might not meet under ordinary circumstances.

"We can't really meet each other in our country," said Danielle Maman, 22, of Jerusalem, one of the Israeli Catholics. "We can't talk face-to-face because there are walls and checkpoints."

"We're all Christians. We always try for peace," said Asil Zarek, 17, of Beer Sheva, Israel.

Pilgrims in both groups said they were not sure how to overcome the political barriers that exist across the two communities, but they thought their faith could be a bridge.

"We should all, as Palestinians and Christians, be one together," said Michael Abusada, 26, a Palestinian living in Jerusalem. "All of us can bring home peace, love and the mercy of Jesus."

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