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Pope Has Audience with Israeli Envoy

Pope John Paul II had a 15-minute audience Friday with Nathan Ben Horin, a Minister at the Israel Embassy here who, since 1980, has been liaison to the Holy See. The Vatican does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Ben Horin was received privately by the Pontiff, accompanied by his Italian-born wife, Miriam Ben Horin, who has been active in interreligious affairs here. She is the founder of the Jungian psychotherapy department of the Faculty of Psychiatry at Rome University.

Members of the Israel government and ranking diplomats have been received by Popes before. John Paul’s audience with Ben Horin was perceived as a personal gesture no less than a formal one. Ben Horin is retiring from the diplomatic service after three tours of duty in Rome, during which he became highly regarded in ecclesiastical, intellectual, cultural and journalistic circles. His audience was the last one the Pope’s agenda before the Pontiff left on a tour of India.

It was learned that the Pope expressed not only warm personal feelings for the Israeli diplomat but hope that the Jewish State and the entire Middle East will soon enjoy peace. He spoke of the common bonds between Christianity and Judaism and said he recalled well the sufferings of the Jewish people in the Holocaust.

Ben Horin was first posted to Rome in 1961 and served until 1966 in the triple capacity of press, information and cultural attache. He returned in 1970 and served until 1975 as press information officer. He was sent to Rome again in 1980 to become Israel’s diplomatic liaison with the Vatican.

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