Monday, December 02, 2013

Vatican confirms Pope will travel to Israel, during meeting with prime minister

The high-profile meeting between Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lasted just 25 minutes.

- Good morning.
- It's a pleasure and an honor to see you.

But it was a major step forward in building relations between these two states, so intricately tied to their religious nature.

By-passing the chit chat, the two leaders spoke about re-starting negotiations, for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Another main topic was the Pope's confirmed visit to Israel in 2014. The Vatican said the dates wouldn't be announced until after a special advance team traveled to the Holy Land to assess the logistics.

-Your Holiness, a pleasure to meet you. I heard so many good things about you.

After the meeting, Netanyahu introduced his 13-member delegation, including his wife Sara.

-My wife's father was a great biblical scholar.

He also introduces several government ministers and staff from the Israeli embassy.

With Hanukkah ending this week, the Israeli leader gave Pope Francis a silver candelabra with the inscription: "To His Holiness, a great shepherd of our common heritage.”

Netanyahu also gave the Pope a Spanish-language copy of the book written by his father, "Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain.” In return, Pope Francis gave the prime minister a bronze engraving of St. Peter as a gift.

As they said goodbye, Netanyahu's wife told the Pope she was looking forward to the Pope's visit.

-May I please congratulate you on your assumption of your office.
-Thank you very much.

After meeting the Pope, Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. They talked about the unfinished agreement between the Vatican and Israel. It centers on the status of the Catholic Church, and of Catholic communities in the Holy Land.

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