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Vatican presses visiting Israeli leader on pact

Israeli interior minister Avraham Poraz was in Rome this week for talks with Vatican officials to ease a labyrinthine visa applications faced each year by church personnel working in Israel.

Poraz met the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo. Later he travelled to Castel Gandalfo for a brief meeting with Pope John Paul II.

It is hoped that the pact between Israel and the Holy See will also give control of the Cenacle of Jerusalem - scene of Jesus' last supper - to Christian groups.

Negotiations between Church representatives and Israeli officials resumed in Jerusalem last week, after a break of nearly a year following an unexpected Israeli withdrawal from the talks. After a further break, the Israelis have promised to return to the bargaining table in October.

Against that backdrop, the visit to Rome by the Israeli cabinet minister suggested a new bid to speed negotiations, given the interior minister has jurisdiction over the Vatican's key concerns. After the meeting between Poraz and Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican issued an official statement confirming that the negotiations had figured prominently in the talks.

Zenit reports that a statement from the Vatican suggests that Cardinal Sodano had pushed to control the agenda at Tuesday's meeting, insisting on a specific consideration of Vatican concerns rather than a general discussion of public affairs in the Middle East.

The statement reported that Cardinal Sodano had observed that "the positions of the Holy See on peace, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, in general, on the situation in the Middle East were well-known to the Israeli government." Therefore, rather than repeating those points, Cardinal Sodano "suggested that today's meeting focus on the questions of the minister's jurisdiction."

Israel Says Pact on Cenacle Depends on Christians (Zenit 15/9/04)
Israel and Vatican Working Out Visa Issue (Zenit 14/9/04)

Israeli government minister meets Pope (Independent Catholic News 16/9/04)
Vatican presses visiting Israeli leader on pact (Catholic World News 15/9/04)
Visas and Taxes: What's Behind Vatican-Israel Talks (Zenit 15/9/04)
Holy Land: Cardinal Martini: Solidarity with Jews and Palestinians (Vidimus Dominum 14/9/04)
Jerusalem: Martini: Many Jews Struck by Conflict Seek Peace (Vidimus Dominum 14/9/04)
Pope, Vatican Secretary of State, meet with Israeli Interior Minister (Catholic News Agency 14/9/04)
Vatican presses visiting Israeli leader on pact (Catholic World News 14/9/04)
Pope meets with Israeli Interior Minister (Vatican Information Service 14/9/04)
Holy See Delegate Upbeat About Talks With Israel (Zenit 10/9/04)
Vatican-Israel talks recessed until October (Catholic World News 10/9/04)
Israel - Holy See: meetings are cordial but Church's rights still face some obstacles ( 9/9/04)
Israel-Vatican talks cordial, but differences remain (Catholic World News 9/9/04)
New optimism on Vatican-Israeli negotiations (Catholic World News 8/9/04)
Cautious approach to new Israeli-Vatican talks (Catholic World News 6/9/04)
Vatican, Israel resume talks, prodded by US (Catholic World News 3/9/04)

17 Sep 2004