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Pope Francis Announces Plans to Visit Israel

The pontiff told Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein he'd make his way to the Holy Land soon

By: Graham Sigurdson
Published: October 9th, 2013 in News » World
Israeli President Shimon Peres with Pope Francis

On Wednesday, during an official visit to Italy and Vatican City, Pope Francis told Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein that he would visit Israel, though he did not specify a set date.

Pope Francis and Edelstein met on Wednesday afternoon, according to Times of Israel, and it was during this meeting that Edelstein extended an invitation to visit Israel and the Knesset to the pontiff, to which he replied, "I’ll come! I’ll come!"

Edelstein also used the meeting to ask that the Pope aid in the combatting of anti-Semitism, saying "There is still anti-semitism in the world. I ask that you use your influence to combat it."

This July, Pope Francis announced that he would visit Israel in 2014 to commemorate Pope Paul VI’s visit to Jerusalem in 1964, before the Vatican had recognized Israel as a state. Francis stated that "The government of Israel granted me a unique opportunity to come to Jerusalem."

Francis made the comments on board the papal aircraft during his first visit abroad following his election. In addition to the invitation to visit and mark the anniversary of Paul VI's visit, Francis added that he would visit the Palestinian Authority as well.

Should he visit next year, it would be Francis' second trip to Israel. Then still known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he visited in 1973 as the Yom Kippur War began, spending six days in his hotel studying the Letters of Saint Paul to the corinthians.

Following Francis' appointment as Pope, Israeli President Shimon Peres immediately invited him to visit, although asking that he come as a spiritual, and not a political leader. "The sooner you visit the better, as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace," said Peres.

Going by a July statement from the President’s office, Francis can be expected to visit Israel "in the near future."

Related articles: Pope Francis, Israel News, Vatican City, Knesset
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