Pope's Holy Land visit hopes dashed

The Vatican spokesman has said Pope Benedict will not visit the Holy Land next year after a Vatican meeting with Israel failed to resolve outstanding issues including Church property taxes and visas for clergy.

DPA reports Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi (pictured) said while the Pope had expressed on several occasions his desire to visit the Holy Land, a "condition of general peace" and "local realities" need to be considered before the Pontiff accepts the standing invitation by Israeli President Shimon Perez.

Last week, a meeting between the Holy See and the Israeli government, was supposed to have agreed to an accord which would finalise legal and financial status of the Church in Israel.

Since its signing in 1993, ratification of the accord "which must be complemented by juridical and economic agreements to come into effect" has been repeatedly delayed.

Congregation for the Oriental Churches secretary Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio - who participated in the 13 December talks - said most sticking points with Israel remained unresolved.

"As long as we talk about God, about peace, the promotion of the rights of women and other human rights, it is easy to reach agreement," Archbishop Veglio said.

"But when we start discussing the details, and I refer in particular to the issue of taxes, then differences emerge," he said.

The next round of Vatican-Israel talks are set to take place in Rome in May 2008.

Vatican rules out papal visit to Holy Land in
2008 (DPA, 17/12/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Israeli Foreign Ministry

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18 Dec 2007

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