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Capucci Boasts He Will Retlirn to Jerusalem As Patriarchal Vicar

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Those who nourished hopes that Msger Hilarion Capocci would become more discreet after his Papal audience and the letter of “obedience and submission” he reportedly presented to Pope John Paul II two days ago, were in for a sharp disappointment In an interview published in the Rome daily II Tempo yesterday Capucci declared that the Greek Melchite Patriarch Maximos V assured him that as soon as political problems were solved, he would be able to return to Jerusalem as Patriarchal Vicar.

Capucci’s release from a Jerusalem jail in 1977, where he served 39 months of a 12-year sentence for gun-running for the PLO when he was still Patriarchal Vicar, was achieved through the personal intervention of Pope Paul VI. The Vatican agreed at the time to Israel’s request that Capucci stay out of politics and never return to the Middle East. Capucci continues to turn a deaf ear to these promises, of least in his public statements if not in his vows of repentence to the Vatican.

In the interview, he drew a comparison between the Pope’s struggle against the Nazis, for the Polish people and his own struggles for the Palestinians. Saying he found the Pope to be a “man” with a capital “M,” he asserted, “it seemed to me that no one better than he who had fought against the Nazis and for the good of his country, Poland, could understand my having fought for the Palestinian people and their dignity.”

Capucci showed little interest in his new job with the Melchite communities of France, Switzerland, Belgium and The Netherlands, where he is to serve as Apostolic Visitor to Western Europe. He said he had not yet thought about where he was going to live, or which or how many Melchite communities there are. He pointed out that it was Maximos V who had requested this position for him which the Pope accepted. “Note that I am a visitor,” he said, which means, canonically, that my duties are temporary.”

He added: “My ties to Jerusalem have not been cut….What counts is that I, a Bishop in exile, have not been cut off from Jerusalem. My Patriarch assured me that once political problems are solved, I will return to work as his Vicar in Jerusalem.”

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