May 7, 2009
. The Vatican has been waiting 15 years for Israel to finalize certain parts of a diplomatic agreement signed by both parties in 1993. It involves things like the Church’s juridical and fiscal status in Israel.
So far, the momentum in the lead up to the Pope’s upcoming trip has not solved the issues.Mordechay Lewy Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See
"This is not yet concluded but we’re hopeful that it will be concluded. Cannot give you a timeframe, certainly not during the Papal visit, which was never connected with the negotiations
What has improved in the last 15 years are relations between Catholics and Jews, despite tensions sparked by the Pope’s lifting of the excommunication of bishop Richard Williamson who denied the extent of the holocaust, or Israel’s view of Pius XII.Mordechay Lewy Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See
"I think the response on the Jewish side was very measured and constructive and it seems to me both sides had a keen interests to overcame the difficulties and the misunderstandings in order to make this Papal visit possible, which the Holy Father wanted himself very much
Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See has little to say about Benedict visiting a refugee camp along the wall in Israel that separates it from Palestinian territory.Mordechay Lewy Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See
"First of all we don’t want to interfere in what the Holy Father is doing in other places, we feel much more responsible on what he will do in Israel itself. The second thought, you can only see that the previous visit of Pope John Paul II was definitely a model for this visit and he visited another refugee camp next to Bethlehem so this time….this camp was chosen…I don’t want to comment
Israel hopes the Pope’s visit generates interest on the part of Catholics to travel to the Holy Land as a way to better understand their Judaeo-Christian roots.Mordechay Lewy Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See
"I think the papal visit here should also be helpful because it will direct the attention of many, many, many Catholics outside Europe also to the Holy Land, to Jews, to Israel and this will be helpful in order to deepen that kind of impact
On the other hand, the Vatican hopes the visit will encourage Christians to remain in the Middle East and motivates Catholics to help their fellow Christians in the Holy Land.