Pope confirms Israel visit


ROME (JTA) — Confirming that he would soon visit Israel, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated that denial of the Holocaust was "altogether unacceptable."

Benedict met Thursday at the Vatican with a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Noting that the group was on its way to its annual leadership mission to Israel, the pope told them "I, too, am preparing to visit Israel, a land which is holy for Christians as well as Jews."

Sources have said the pope will visit Israel this spring, but there has been no formal announcement of a trip.

The pope’s meeting with Jewish leaders took place in the wake of the controversy over his rehabilitation of Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson.

"It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable," the pope told the leaders.

"The Church is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism, and to continue to build good and lasting relations between our two communities."

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