Kollek Criticizes Pope’s Apostolic Letter on Jerusalem

Mayor Teddy Kollek said here that Pope John Paul II ignored the complete freedom of worship available to all faiths in Jerusalem when he issued his apostolic letter last week urging “special internationally guaranteed status” for Jerusalem.

In remarks during Easter holiday visits to Greek Orthodox and Catholic prelates in Jerusalem, Kollek maintained that the Pope neglected to take into account Israel’s constant efforts to help various Christian denominations in the city.

The Pope’s letter, addressed to Catholics in Israel and to all people of the Middle East, repeated the Vatican’s longstanding call for the internationally recognized status of Jerusalem “so that one side or the other cannot place it under discrimination. ” The Pope also said a Palestinian homeland and security for Israel were fundamental requirements for a lasting Mideast peace.

The letter, although it broke no new ground in terms of Vatican policy, was not well received in Israel. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters last week that “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people throughout history and will remain Israel’s capital forever” and that there has never been such complete freedom of worship as that presently available to all faiths under Israeli policy.

HOLY SEE’S POSITION FOR PAST 14 YEARS

But government officials here noted that the Pope did not call for the internationalization of Israel’s declared capital, a position the Vatican maintained prior to 1970 but subsequently dropped.

Instead, the Pope was recommending an “internationally guaranteed status” — a formula which had expressed the Holy See’s position for the past 14 years. There was no need, therefore, the officials said, for Israel to react diplomatically to the Pontiff’s letter.

Kollek, in his conversations with local churchmen, said it was “strange” that the Holy Father had forborne to take note of the “good situation, the good will and readiness to assist” which existed on the part of the Israeli authorities.

The mayor stressed that Jerusalem was not only the Holy City but also the City of Peace. The authorities, he said, were making every effort to counter acts of extremism and non-tolerance “from whichever quarter they emanate.”

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