When Pope Benedict XVI left the Holy Land, he probably felt like that woman who applied for a new job. “I see you were last employed by a psychiatrist,” said the employer to the applicant. “Why did you leave?” “Well,” she replied, “I just couldn’t win. If I was late to work, I was hostile. If I was early, I had an anxiety complex. If I was on time, I was compulsive.”
The Pope came here hoping to please Jews, Muslims and Christians. He leaves everybody a bit frustrated, a bit angry but, most of all — indifferent. The Jews, even before he arrived, were a bit suspicious of a German pontiff who had joined the Hitlerjugend in his youth. Not to mention his attempts to make Pope Pius XII a saint, and his ambivalent treatment of the Holocaust-denying bishop.
Furthermore, spoiled by the historic and moving visit of Pope John Paul II, with his unwavering message of reconciliation, people listened to the present Pope speaking at Yad Vashem and were disappointed at how vague he was.
The Muslims were not happy with him either, and Sheikh Tamimi, the chief Muslim cleric, totally spoiled the party when unexpectedly he railed against the Pope’s silence vis-à-vis Israel’s alleged atrocities, in the Pope’s presence.
Not to mention the Christians here. Everybody knows The Charge of the Light Brigade, the poem written in 1854 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, about the disastrous battle in the Crimean War. Few, however, know that the Crimean War started because of a local feud between Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox over the Holy Places. One word too many, and the Pope would have started another war.
Oh yes, over one thing the Pope did manage to unite Jerusalemites, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike: traffic, during his visit, was hell on earth.