Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, praised the work of Bethlehem University in Palestine during his January 31 visit. His stop at the university came during a pilgrimage leading up to his appointment as Cardinal February 18.
Dolan commended the university and local Christian community for creating a space of learning and growth. “We’ve come to Bethlehem because it’s the birthplace of Jesus, who is the most important person in our lives and we’ve come here because it reminds us the Church in the Holy Land is not just a museum and not just a historical fact but is living and still goes on so the work of Jesus continues in and through the Church. So if you want to see where that’s alive, come to a place like Bethlehem University,” he said.
While on campus, Dolan talked with students about their struggle to get an education. He expressed solidarity with the university and acknowledged the challenge of bringing different types of people together. The Catholic News Service quoted Dolan as calling the university “particularly valuable” because of its work to bring 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.
He ended a speech during his visit with more praise for the university. “Every time I come here, I leave with hope, the hope that radiates from the beautiful students. Thanks be to God for Bethlehem University,” he said.
Also highlighting the hope Bethlehem provides is the new documentary Across the Divide produced by Salt and Light TV in Toronto, Canada. Due out this spring, the documentary will tell the story of Bethlehem University, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, and students who sacrifice everything for their education. It will show how they are trying to build a better future for the Holy Land despite the violence and hardships they face.