Pope’s people discuss Israel visit


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Vatican delegation met in Jerusalem with the Israeli president’s officials to discuss a potential visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

The delegation responsible for preparing the pope’s official visits around the world met at the Jerusalem residence of Shimon Peres with the president’s senior advisers, representatives of the Foreign, Religious Services and Interior ministries, and officials from the Unit for VIP Security to discuss a comprehensive plan for a visit by Benedict. The pope is considering a visit to Israel next year.

Peres during a September 2007 visit to Italy invited the pope to make an official visit to Israel, saying it would strengthen the message of peace, reconciliation and hope in the entire Middle East. The president followed up with an official invitation.

Jerusalem and the Vatican have experienced tension over the pope’s decision to move forward with the process of beatifying World War II -era Pope Pius XII, despite criticism leveled at him for not using his position to help Jews during the Holocaust.

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