Catholic High School Teacher trying to get the Pope to go to Bethlehem
5.4.2002

Dear Holy Father Pope John Paul II:  I am writing you this open letter, one because I cannot find a direct email address for you, and two because I wish to notify all people of goodwill of my request of you.
 
I urge you Santo Papa, as the Vicar of Christ, and the leader of my Church, the Catholic Church, to go to Bethlehem now without delay.  I tried to convey this message to you weeks ago through the National Catholic Reporter, but they did not publish my letter.  I try once again, and with even more passion and alarm.  You are the one symbol of peace and justice who could make a difference in deciding for a better tomorrow in the Middle East.  Everyone respects you, no one suspects you of harboring racist or anti-Semitic prejudices.  I beseech you to go to act as a humane shield for the Muslims and Christians under occupation in the Holy Land.  Against the tanks, soldiers and air power, the Palestinian people are exposed to the threat of death and the temptation to suicide attack.

I believe as someone who has lived briefly among both Israelis and Palestinians, that peace has always been possible if such things as the Vatican Accord with the PLO, in the year 2000, had been implemented.  The root problem has remained the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the colonial-style settlement building, and the refusal to address the compensation of the millions of Palestinian refugees.  When Oslo was discovered to be a cruel deception to cover over the acceleration of immoral Israeli settlement construction, the Palestinian people exploded.  The Israeli and US establishments betrayed every single Palestinian, and we turned their youth into human bombs through our abuse of truth, media, international agencies, and taxpayer monies earmarked for foreign aid.

Now the time for the US to offer hope is over.  So I turn to my Church.  The Catholic Church stepped into the fray after the Roman Empire fell and barbarian tribes threatened the innocents.  As the only institution that survived the chaos, the Catholic Church became very active in protecting the poor and vulnerable when no government agency existed to help. Now we see a return to such conditions, the Palestinians are suffering with no sign of assistance coming.  Holy Father, be that sign.  It is time for you to take up residence in Bethlehem, and bring public opinion around.  Feed your flock, protect your flock.  Show the Muslim people that Christians are not brutal imperialists.  Serve as a presence of peaceful protest to rally young Palestinians around you and not suicide missions.  You lead, many will follow.  I ask you, "What would Jesus do?"

Yours Sincerely, Timothy Shipe,
theology teacher, Bishop Ready High School, Columbus, Ohio
(Please forward to every peace organization and publication you can think of- write to National Catholic Reporter to urge them to publish my letter)