Cautious welcome for renewed relations with Israel Govt
Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land head Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa has described the resumption of diplomatic talks between Church leaders and Israeli government officials as a "positive sign", but warned that "serious problems" remain.
Speaking to the Italian daily Avvenire, Fr Pizzaballa said that he had seen clear signs of good will in his first official talks with Israeli officials. He voiced some optimism that those talks would soon produce a resolution to one problem that has worried Church leaders: the government's failiure to renew visas for Catholic missionaries working in the Holy Land.
But Catholic World News says the Custos, as he is known, cited further unresolved problems, such as the construction of a subway system that will block the "New Gate" to Jerusalem, closing off the only direct vehicle access to the Christian quarter of the old city.
Fr Pizzaballa said he hopes the resumption of talks on an economic agreement between the Holy See and the Israeli government would lead to progress in other areas as well. The diplomatic talks are scheduled to resume next week following months of diplomatic stalemate that arose when Israeli negotiators abruptly pulled out of the talks.
Hopes, fears for Christians in Holy Land (Catholic World News 29/6/04)
30 Jun 2004