Pope’s Day in Israel

Posted on Mar 22, 2019

On Thursday, March 14, the Apostolic Nunciature in Israel received civil and religious authorities to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

The following took part in the meeting: on behalf of the Government and the State of Israel, the Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi; ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, Ordinaries and faithful both Catholic and of other Christian communities, as well as of other religions. The guests were received in the hall of the parish of St. Anthony in Jaffa, by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, by the Secretary of Nunciature, Mgr. Marco Formica, and by the members of the Nunciature.

Tzachi Haneghi Minister for Regional Cooperation “I would like to thank His Excellency Leopoldo Girelli for inviting me to participate in this important event.”

The minister pointed out the importance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel: “Our relations are not based only on diplomatic and political ties, but on deep historical and spiritual ones. Israel congratulates His Holiness Pope Francis, who is a wonderful friend of Israel and the Jews. We have gladly noticed your statement about the incompatibility of anti-Semitism with the Christian faith.” The Minister also quoted His Holiness brave decision to open the Vatican archives of the Holocaust period, stating that the Church has nothing to fear from history.

Mgr. Girelli, in his speech, highlighted some words of the Message of the World Day of Peace 2019, according to which Pope Francis says that “every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the source and references that inspire justice and law. He recalled the importance of the embrace between Pope Francis and the great Imam of Al-Alzhar for the coexistence of different religions.

He also recalled that this year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See. In 1994, following the signing of the Fundamental Agreement on 30 December 1993, two diplomatic missions were established: the Apostolic Nunciature in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Israeli Embassy in the Vatican. Since then, many common activities made the relationship deeper and deeper, including the exchange of visits by the Supreme Pontiffs in Israel and the Presidents of Israel in the Vatican.

The Apostolic Nuncio also pointed out that among the millions of visitors who each year come to Israel, there are many Christian pilgrims (at least 60%). In thanking the Israeli authorities for the safe conditions under which pilgrims can freely visit the places of Jesus, he asked them to consider the benefits that these pilgrimages bring to the country. Bishop Girelli also urged the civil authority to increasingly acknowledge the special contribution that the Catholic Church offers to Israeli society.

RABBI DAVID ROSEN International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee “It is a matter of honour and gratitude to have met such special men. They all helped with their collaboration in the relationship between Catholics and Jews. I am grateful to God for this great opportunity to have met these popes. John Paul II was the great master of concrete gestures, and of the strength of the message he wanted to convey. Benedict XVI continued this mission. And now it is Pope Francis’ turn, who knows the Jewish people well, through the contact he had with the Jewish community of Buenos Aires”.

“We believe that in this new era of rediscovered Jewish-Catholic fraternity, we have become more and more a blessing to each other and that the visits of the three popes have been further confirmation of this.” These were the words of Minister Tzachi Haneghi.