Joe McDonnell thinks Gerard Luebbers has a nerve correcting the Pope’s interpretation of the Christmas story. Do you know Luebbers’ background, sir? Perhaps he’s taken (as I have) graduate courses in Scripture — I believe you’ll find the Pope has not taken these.
Bethlehem was basically a small village, overwhelmed by the crowds arriving for the census. It’s unlikely there was more than the one inn, and so Joseph wasn’t turned away for lack of money — Jesus was not born in poverty — but for lack of room. In fact, scholars suggest that it’s more likely they were to stay with family but discovered no room for a birth in the house and so went looking for the inn. So, yes, the story could be accurate in the location of Jesus’ birth, but interpretations of it since (including the Pope’s) suggesting it was due to poverty have indeed been wrong. As you said yourself, Joseph was a skilled workman; he would have been at least middle class in his time and place.
Ginny Kiernan Dahlberg, Belleville