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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In an effort to boost Catholic tourism to Israel, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog has invited the Vatican to host next year's World Bishops Conference in Israel.
Herzog presented the possibility in a meeting Sunday with the Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, as a means of strengthening relations between Israel and Christian leaders.
Also on the meeting's agenda were preparations for the anticipated visit of Pope Benedict XVI next year and a request from Franco to advance an administrative-economic agreement between the two, whereby Israel would provide assistance to clergy in the country. Approximately half the 800,000 Christian tourists to Israel last year were Catholic, double the 2004 total.