Vatican City (AsiaNews) - It is likely that Benedict XVI's "desired" visit to the Holy Land will take place next May, during which the pope would visit both Israel and the Palestinian territories. The news, released by the newspaper Haaretz, has been only partially confirmed by the Israeli embassy to the Holy See, according to which "contacts are underway," but no dates have been established.
According to the Israeli newspaper, two weeks ago the nuncio Msgr. Antonio Franco said during a meeting with President Shimon Peres that the pope had decided to respond positively to the Israeli invitation to visit the country.
Since the visit has not been announced publicly, Haaretz continues, no preparations are underway, but the visit should take place in the second week of May.
Today, the Israeli embassy to the Holy See did not confirm the report in the newspaper, but said that there are "contacts between the two sides for a probable visit of the pope to Israel in 2009." "The details of the visit," the embassy continues, "have not yet been established or agreed, because this will take place through normal diplomatic channels. When the details are available, the parties will make this known through a joint press release."
Benedict XVI would be the third pope to go to the Holy Land, after the visits made in 1964 by Paul VI, and in 2000 by John Paul II.