Buckle Up, People: The Pope’s Brilliant Move

TIME

Pope Francis is proving himself to be one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

On Sunday, he arrived in Bethlehem and made an unexpected stop that surprised everyone: en route to mass in Manger Square, he halted the popemobile and caused a chaotic flurry of press, security, and onlookers as he walked over to the wall that separates Israel from the West Bank. Beneath the graffiti scrawled “Bethlehem,” he reached out, placed his hand on the wall, and prayed.

Only a Holy Father like Francis could pull off this kind of stunt. One small gesture, and the Israeli military in the watchtower above and the Palestinian people below were all at his mercy. He rendered all sides powerless by drawing them into his service, the most counterintuitive service of prayer.

To top it all off, during his sermon at mass, Francis made a historic invitation: “In this place…

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