News / Middle East

    Christians Celebrate Palm Sunday

    Christian clergymen carry palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20, 2016.
    Christian clergymen carry palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20, 2016.
    Robert Berger

    Pope Francis kicked off the Christian Holy Week leading up to Easter by celebrating Palm Sunday Mass with pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square Sunday, while observances in Jerusalem have been overshadowed by a wave of unrest.

    In Rome, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church lamented the "indifference" of the people who he said do not want to take on the responsibility of deciding the destiny of refugees who have overwhelmed Europe.

    Pope Francis compared them to the local authorities who also washed their hands of Jesus' fate before his crucifixion.

    Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when palm branches were strewn in front of him.  Later, he would be arrested and crucified.

    Jerusalem

    In Jerusalem's Old City, Palm Sunday dawned to the sound of bells at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulch.

    Christian clergymen carry palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20, 2016.
    Christian clergymen carry palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20, 2016.

    Priests chanted the Palm Sunday liturgy waving olive and palm branches, but turnout was sparse this year in the wake of six months of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

    Palestinian shopkeeper Abu Hassan said Holy Week usually brings crowds of tourists to the Old City bazaar, but not this year.

    “The situation this year it is very bad. Not so many tourists are coming and is is very quiet. And we hope the problems will be finished and the people (will) come to visit this Holy Land," Hassan said.

    However, the pilgrims who made the journey were glad they did.

    Mark Caldwell, who came from the U.S. state of New Jersey, was fascinated by the mixture of Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Old City.

    'Lifelong dream'

    “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to be here and it is an amazing nexus of three Abrahamic religions. So it is important for me to be here. And it is an amazing historical and spiritual place," Caldwell said.

    Christian pilgrims hold palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20, 2016.
    Christian pilgrims hold palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20, 2016.

    Holy Week continues with two major events: on Good Friday, Christians will retrace the footsteps of Jesus to the 14 Stations of the cross; and on Easter Sunday, they will celebrate the resurrection.

    Later Sunday, in the United States, Fox TV is staging "The Passion," a live two-hour event about the final hours of the life of Jesus with a modern-day musical twist -- the story takes place in southern U.S. city of New Orleans.

    The cast includes actor/singer Jencarlos Canela as Jesus, country singer Trisha Yearwood as Mary, and singer/songwriter Seal as Pontius Pilate.  Filmmaker Tyler Perry is hosting the event.

    PHOTOS: Palm Sunday celebrated around the world

    • Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday Mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
    • Members of the clergy holds palm branches at the start of the Palm Sunday mass led by Pope Francis at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
    • Prefect of the Papal Household Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, right, holds a palm leaf as he walks in procession at the beginning of a Palm Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
    • Christian clergymen carry palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City.
    • Christian pilgrims hold palm fronds during the Palm Sunday procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion, in Jerusalem's Old City.
    • Belarussian Catholics re-enact a moment in the life of Jesus Christ in a Catholic church before a procession to celebrate Palm Sunday in the town of Oshmiany.
    • Belarussian Catholics carry a wooden cross as they take part in a procession celebrating Palm Sunday in the town of Oshmiany.
    • Roman Catholic devotees wave palm fronds to be blessed by a priest to commemorate Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, south of Manila, Philippines.
    • Young penitents attend a Palm Sunday procession in Pontevedra, northern Spain.
    • An Indian Christian devotee dressed like Jesus Christ sits on a donkey as others hold palm leaves during a Palm Sunday procession in Hyderabad, India.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Vinay from: Bangalore
    March 21, 2016 4:35 AM
    Catholics are True Christians and Catholic population is the world's Largest, We love Catholics and Cathholicism

    by: Ben
    March 20, 2016 11:41 AM
    Catholics. Not Christians. There is a difference.
    In Response

    by: jacob from: India
    March 21, 2016 2:24 AM
    Just a further note on this. If you look up Catholic Church on wikipedia it is all quite clear in the section "history" of the Catholic Church.
    In Response

    by: Jacob from: India
    March 21, 2016 2:10 AM
    Since there are non-Americans who will be puzzled by this comment, it is worth noting that in any normal publication, Christians are classified in various groups, such as Catholics, Orthodox, and various kinds of protestants. The Church was united until about 1,500 years ago when the Egyptians broke away from most of the rest of Christianity; there were later breaks around the year 1000 and then again around 1500. The Apostles Creed describes the original Church as the Holy Catholic Church.
    In Response

    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    March 21, 2016 12:44 AM
    The era of religions' relevance is gone for good! Church goers are shrinking rapidly around the world while Muslims are alarmingly abandoning Islam. Human being just found out that all known conventional religions are nothing else but bogus entities.

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