Vatican speaks out on impasse in dialogue with Israel

Frustration stems from stalled negotiations over visa process for priests and nuns traveling to Israel.

pope 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
pope 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, expressed the Roman Catholic Church's frustration with a standstill of many years in negotiations with Israel to ease the visa process for priests and nuns traveling to Israel, as well as on other issues. His comments, slated to appear in the January 6 issue of Italy's largest circulation Catholic magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, come on the heels of other exasperated comments by leading Curia (Holy See administration) officials - as reported in The Jerusalem Post on December 24. "We are committed to an intense dialogue, but unfortunately we do not obtain solutions to many concrete problems," said Cardinal Bertone, "such as the right to property, visas, etc. Our religious personnel in the Holy Land is not granted visas and yet it cannot be said that they are a threat to security. This is a closure that prevents us from carrying out our activity with serenity." He asserted that while one must take into account "the problem of security in Israel," this "must not be transformed into a negative attitude towards the members of the Catholic Church, which has done so much in the past 15 years, both towards normalizing relations with Israel and towards improving the [Church's] understanding of Judaism." Bertone said "the Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pizzaballa, has pointed out that pilgrims from all over the world contribute to creating a more fair image of the state of Israel. The pilgrims to the holy places, moreover, enrich Israel. This year they were more numerous than during the Holy Year of 2000. "At times, it seems to us that Israel does not evaluate all this properly and adequately."