October 26, 1999

VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Holy See remains deeply concerned by plans
to build a mosque in Nazareth, just outside the revered Basilica of the
Annunciation. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran made that concern plain in an
address at the United Nations.

Archbishop Tauran, the Vatican's top foreign-affairs officer, was speaking at
ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Palestinian mission at the
UN. While he expressed hope for the future of the peace process in the
Middle East, the archbishop voiced concerns over the potential for conflict in

Archbishop Tauran also reiterated the Vatican's plea for an international
statute governing the city of Jerusalem. During a separate talk in New York,
to members of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, the Vatican diplomat said
that it would be "unacceptable" to allow free access only for the "holy sites"
within Jerusalem. The entire city should be accessible to all believers, he
said. The archbishop explained that the shrines sacred to Jews, Christians,
and Muslims must be seen "not only as buildings, but as centers around
which communities live." If Jerusalem's holy places are treated separately,
he continued, there is a risk that they will be viewed as museums, rather
than as homes of a living faith.