This pope photo from the Middle East is worth a thousand words


Pope Francis wades into the crowd Saturday in Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus is thought to have been baptized. (William Booth/The Washington Post)

Pope Francis is surrounded by well-wishers, cancer patients, and Iraqi and Syrian refugees on Saturday in a half-completed church in Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the site where tradition says that Jesus was baptized.

The pope — shown in his white zucchetto, or skullcap — is wearing a red checkered scarf given to him a few minutes earlier by a Jordanian student. The scene shows a pope who decided on his own to wade into a spontaneous moment. People felt comfortable to reach out, embrace him and kiss his cheek. Everyone looked happy and taken by the warmth — not least of all the pontiff, who was beaming.

William Booth is The Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief. He was previously bureau chief in Mexico, Los Angeles and Miami.

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Ruth Eglash · May 25, 2014