The Apostolic Nuncio to the Holy Land, Archbishop Antonio Franco, reiterated his hope this week that Pope Benedict XVI would visit the region, but said the trip would only be possible if the difficulties being experienced by the Christian community are overcome and if progress is made on the Palestinian issue.
In an interview with terrasanta.net, the archbishop said, “Our hope is that that day will arrive (the papal visit), and I am convinced that this trip would be beneficial for all. But what our negotiators keep repeating is that the Pope should be able travel in a positive atmosphere. If the Catholic Christian community is experiencing difficulties and is in a state of permanent tension, it will be more difficult for the Pope to visit us, because we want the most serene atmosphere possible.”
“Insofar as the practical problems are resolved and progress is made on the core problem of the Palestinian issue, which in the end is the root of all other problems, the climate and the groundwork is created for a papal visit,” the archbishop said.
During the interview, he also stressed that the Holy See cannot sign any agreement with the State of Israel that includes fiscal obligations that the Christian community “cannot sustain.” “The Holy See is not asking for privileges, but rather that the rights of Christians who live in this land be respected,” he said.
He warned that making the Catholic communities pay more would lead to their disappearance, as they depend on what they receive from the universal Church.