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Time: Christians in Gaza Make Their Appeal to the Pope

Author: Tim McGirk
May 11, 2009


Tim McKirk says to be a Christian in Gaza is difficult and requires discretion. Gaza once had a thriving Christian community, but now it is down to 2,500.

Excerpt: The sign outside the door read "Cinema Club", but inside, a Catholic priest was conducting Friday mass in Arabic for Gaza's furtive Christians.

Many of those Christians bowing their heads before a statue of the Virgin Mary were hoping that the power of prayer might nudge along the Israeli security bureaucracy. Six weeks ago, 250 Christians applied for permission from the Israelis to exit the locked down Palestinian enclave of Gaza for a day to see Pope Benedict XVI as he visits in Israel on his tour of the Middle East. The Pontiff arrived in Tel Aviv Monday, but so far Gaza's Christians haven't heard if their permit applications - and prayers - have been answered. "The Pope is an inspiration for us, and we want to tell him how difficult it is for us Arab Christians living in Gaza," says Kamran, a young Christian student.

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