Vatican Secretary of State marks 25 years of diplomatic relations with Israel

Rome, Italy, Jun 14, 2019 / 06:56 am (CNA).- Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel Thursday by calling for a shared commitment to religious freedom and combatting anti-Semitism.

“The peace process and the future of the region are in the heart of the pope and the Holy See,” Parolin said June 13 at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary in the Great Synagogue of Rome.

“The Holy See and the State of Israel are called to join forces to promote religious freedom — of religion and of conscience — as an indispensable condition to protect the dignity of every human being, and to work together to combat anti-Semitism,” he said.

Parolin said that the special nature of the relationship between Israel and the Holy See emerges from the unique character of the Holy Land.

“Jerusalem, the city of peace, is at its heart, the common heritage for all the faithful of the three great monotheistic religions and of the whole world,” he said.

“Our religious and political commitment favors the city’s vocation to be a place of reconciliation and encounter between religions, as well as a symbol of respect and peaceful cohabitation,” the Secretary of State continued.

To mark the anniversary, Pope Francis invited all believers and non-believers to dedicate “a minute of peace,” a minute of prayer and reflection for “a more fraternal world,” Parolin said.

The Holy See established full diplomatic relations with Israel with the Fundamental Agreement signed in December 1993, which set forth a common commitment to cooperate in combaing anti-Semitism, the promotion of academic exchanges, and cooperation in encouring Christian pilgrimages.

Diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and the Vatican opened on June 15, 1994. Each of the following popes visited Israel since the signing of the agreement. Saint Pope John Paul II in 2000, Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and Pope Francis in 2014.

In his speech to the Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See Oren David and the Israeli diplomatic corp, Cardinal Parolin highlighted the prayer meeting between Israeli and Palestinian presidents hosted by the Vatican in June 2014 and Pope Francis’ address to international conference on combatting anti-Semintism in 2018.

“The Church wishes to extend its hand. We want to remember and walk together … mindful of the heritage shared in common with the Jewish people, driven not by political reasons, but by religious evangelical charity, we deplore the hatred, persecution and all manifestations of anti-Stemitism directed against the Jewish people at any time and from anyone,” Pope Francis said.

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