Italian Agency Reports Growing Rapprochement Between Vatican, Israel

The Vatican’s recent appointment of a Bishop to the post of Auxiliary Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the designation of Israeli Jerusalem as the Bishop’s headquarters, “is one of the many recent events that mark a rapprochement between the Vatican and Israel, “according to a report disseminated here by the Italia news agency. The agency is considered the official organ of the Christian Democrats, dominant party in the Italian Government. The agency attributed its interpretation of the recent developments regarding Vatican-Israeli relations to “competent sources.”

Msgr. Pier Giorgio Chiappero reached Jerusalem last month and established his new headquarters in the Israel capital. Until now, the news agency noted, the Latin Catholic community in Israel was under the jurisdiction of the Latin Patriarch and the Vatican’s Apostolic Delegate in the Jordanian sector of Jerusalem.

(Another Italian news agency. Agenzia Diplomatica, reported today from Amman that the Jordanian Government had officially asked the Vatican for “clarification” of the Vatican’s alleged intention to recognize Israel formally. According to the Amman dispatch, Jordan was “assured” that the Vatican had no intention “for the time being” of recognizing the State of Israel.)

Italia pointed out that “the progressive rapprochement between the Church and the Jewish world” was illustrated during 1959 by two decrees issued by the Holy See, modifying two traditional prayers which were deemed offensive to Jews.

The agency declared that “on their side, Israel authorities have manifested their good will toward the Vatican by compensating Catholic congregations in Israel, some of whose buildings were destroyed or damaged” in 1948. The agency saw further signs of rapprochement in the recent formation at Tel Aviv of a committee for religious understanding, noting that both Christians and Jews participated.

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