Cardinal-Designate Dolan Visits Bethlehem University

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) — Bethlehem University is helping create a “culture of peace and life, and a civilization of love“ by bringing together students of different backgrounds, New York Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan said during a visit to Bethlehem University.

“This is classical Catholic thought — that one of the greatest natural things you can do for human beings is education, and when you expose people to the truth, progress happens, justice happens, friendship happens,” he said Jan. 31, during a Holy Land pilgrimage with a group of 50 archdiocesan priests.

“To educate for us is not only a natural endeavor, it is a supernatural endeavor … because Jesus said, ‘I am the truth,’ so we bring people closer to God, we bring people closer to Jesus, we bring people closer to each other.”

While those ideals may seem “cerebral” and “lofty,” they can be seen being played out at Bethlehem University, he said.

The university “is particularly valuable … because it is working and it is bringing people together. We saw non-Catholic Christians, Catholics, Muslims and maybe even people with no religion, and they not only are classmates, they are becoming friends. And for the rest of their lives they are going to work together, they are going to know one another’s children, and that is creating a culture of peace; that’s creating a culture of life, that’s creating civilization of love,” he said.

The cardinal-designate spoke to Catholic News Service during Catholic Schools Week, which in the U.S. is celebrated Jan. 29-Feb. 5. The group arrived in the Holy Land Jan. 26 and was scheduled to leave Feb. 2.

While at the university, the priests met with students who told about their experiences as Palestinians.

“Opportunities for work in Palestine are very limited,” noted third-year accounting and business administration student Christina Jueejet, 20, of Beit Sahour, West Bank. “There are a lot of educated people, but not enough jobs. We can only look for jobs in a limited area, in the West Bank, not even in Jerusalem.”

Father Andrew Carrozza of St. Ann’s Parish in Yonkers, New York, said he was humbled listening to the students’ experiences and struggles to receive an education, including having to go through checkpoints and border crossings to get to school. It made the priests take stock of everything they had taken for granted during their own college studies, he said.

The priests were treated to a lunch served by students in Bethlehem University’s Hotel Management and Tourism Department. Also at the lunch was a delegation from England’s Anglican Church, led by Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury. He and Cardinal– designate Dolan sat side by side during the meal.

Cardinal-designate Dolan joked that the only thing that concerned him about the university was that it had Brooklyn natives teaching English to the students.

“I presume you have accent-reduction classes,” he joked.

As he left the meal, he noticed that Sana Abujudeh, 19, was carrying the book “Death Comes for the Archbishop” by Willa Cather. The cardinal–designate spoke enthusiastically about the book and encouraged the student to read “Lamy of Sante Fe” by Paul Horgan.

“I’ll mail you a copy,” he said.

In the morning, the New York priests had time to reflect at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, and they toured the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

“I try to go with my priests once a year on a retreat pilgrimage to get closer to Jesus and to get closer to God and God of the Bible,” said Cardinal-designate Dolan. “We are just here to pray to rediscover ours roots as children of God, as Christians and as priests. It has been very successful. It gives reality to our religion.”

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