Cardinal Dolan Faces Missile Attack in Bethlehem, Meets Palestinian Leader

 April 14, 2024

It was a visit marked by conflict and hope.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan found himself caught amid an Iranian missile attack on Israel while visiting Bethlehem, later engaging in significant diplomatic discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to the New York Post, Cardinal Dolan had to seek shelter during his mission for peace in the Holy Land when air raid sirens pierced the calm of Bethlehem. The cardinal shared his unsettling experience via a video on the social platform X, noting the contrast between the day's calm and the previous night's chaos.

Cardinal's Encounter Amid Regional Tensions

Just hours after the missile barrage, Cardinal Dolan met President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem.

Their conversation aimed to foster mutual understanding and peace in a region often torn by violence. Abbas expressed his appreciation for the church’s contribution towards peace and stability.

Discussing resilience and hope, Cardinal Dolan shared his reflections from the visit:

This Sunday in Bethlehem all does seem calm and bright. And it is for us. We feel safe and secure. That wasn’t true in the middle of last night when the air raid sirens went off, and we had to go down and seek security at Notre Dame Center...

But right now things look good, and we’re grateful for that. Those are messages of inspiration that you get here in the Holy Land that I think have given the people the resilience and hope for which they are famous. Happy Sunday.

The missile attack by Iran, which took place on a Saturday night, was a retaliation against Israel’s previous military actions. Despite the grave situation, Israel's defense systems successfully intercepted most of the missile and drone onslaught. Unfortunately, the conflict claimed the life of a 7-year-old Bedouin girl.

Cardinal’s Journey Through Conflict to Peace

As part of his broader mission, Cardinal Dolan continued to engage with various religious communities and addressed the congregation during a Mass at the Beit Jala Latin Parish in Bethlehem. His visit was not merely a gesture but a robust effort under the aegis of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s interactions extended beyond ecclesiastical settings; he also met with families of hostages, a poignant reminder of the ongoing human costs of the conflict. His travel in the region was scheduled to continue through Thursday, reflecting a committed pastoral and peace-building effort amid regional instability.

Iran's aggressive response on April 14 follows the killing of their top generals by Israeli forces in Lebanon earlier in the month, specifically on April 1, 2024. This act has escalated tensions, prompting fears of an intensifying conflict.

Reflections from a High-Stakes Visit

In his talks, Cardinal Dolan relayed greetings from Pope Francis and lauded President Abbas for his wise leadership in securing legitimate rights for the Palestinian people, backed by the Catholic Church’s moral support. His visit, therefore, assumed a mediating role in a time of heightened violence.

Summarizing the situation and the cardinal's involvement, the Holy Land remains a region of deep historical scars and contemporary geopolitical challenges. Cardinal Dolan's recent visit serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing efforts by religious and political leaders to seek peace amidst turmoil, bridging divides in hopes of a more stable and hopeful future for all involved parties.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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