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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
Prediction 12: A visit by cardinals and/or the Pope himself to Jerusalem/Middle
Peres: Pope may visit Israel
What Is This? ROME, Italy (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI is considering
visiting Israel in the first part of 2007, former Israeli Prime Minister
Shimon Peres has said after meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican.
Peres renewed an invitation, first made last year by Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, for the pope to visit the country. "He indicated that he
may do it in the first part of next year," Peres told a news conference.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls confirmed the invitation had
been extended in a statement, but gave no details on the pope's
Peres said he did not think outstanding issues between the Vatican and
Israel over taxation of church properties would preclude a papal visit.
Some analysts have suggested the pope might not make the trip until the
issues are worked out.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner also dismissed concern that a Hamas-led
government in the Palestinian territories would prevent the pope from
visiting the region, saying: "I hope that by then the problem will not
remain. Hamas made a government, but I don't see how they can govern."
Pope John Paul II visited the Holy Land in 2000, meeting with Israeli
officials as well as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during a stop in
the Palestinian territories.
Benedict has continued John Paul's outreach to the Jews, visiting a
synagogue in Cologne, Germany, during his first trip abroad last year.
Navarro-Valls said that Peres' meeting with the pope and the Vatican
secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, also covered peace prospects
in the region. "In that context, there was unanimity in condemning every
form of terrorism under whatever pretext is made to justify it," the