DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     December 22, 1999     vol. 10, no. 243

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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POPE TO VISIT HOLY LAND WITHOUT ISRAELI ESCORT

        JERUSALEM (CWNews.com) - When Pope John Paul II visits the Holy Land next March, he will be accompanied by Israeli security guards, but not by Israeli politicians, according to the Latin-rite Patriarch of Jerusalem.

        Patriarch Michel Sabbah said on Tuesday that the Holy Father will travel alone to emphasize that his trip is spiritual in nature and not political. The patriarch pointed out that if the Pope were to visit east Jerusalem, a disputed area claimed by both Palestinians and Israelis, accompanied by Israeli leaders that might send a message that he supports Israel's political claims.

        Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority has vowed to make the capital of a future Palestinian state there, a major sticking point in peace negotiations for the region.

        "During the visit of the Holy Father inside the holy city, he will not be escorted by any political authority," Patriarch Sabbah said. "He will be just escorted by religious people who will pray with him." Yoav Koren, an adviser to Israeli Cabinet Minister Haim Ramon -- the Israeli government liaison for the Pope's visit -- said the final details had not yet been worked out, but that in principle it was up to the Pope to decide who would accompany him.


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December 22, 1999       volume 10, no. 243
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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