Second meeting between the Israeli Minister of Tourism and Patriarch Twal
JERUSALEM – On Thursday, March 13, 2014, the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Dr. Uzi Landau visited the Patriarchate to meet with His Beatitude. The challenge and the organization of the upcoming visit of Pope Francis were discussed, as well as the common desire to continue to work closely for the reception of pilgrims and access to the Holy Places.
Patriarch Twal, welcoming the Minister and his team, immediately praised the cooperation between the Church and the Ministry of Tourism. He emphasized the uniqueness of Jerusalem and its “universal dimension for all peoples” while adding: “Together, we are working to ensure that pilgrimages are facilitated and that access to the Holy Places is possible for all the pilgrims because the reception of pilgrims in the Holy Land is a common interest. Indeed, millions of pilgrims come from all over the world each year in the Holy Land.”
Minister Landau spoke of his desire to “continue this mission together,” and promised pilgrims to have better access to Holy Places, including Bethlehem. He stressed the importance for all citizens and for all pilgrims to have “safe” access to the Holy Places. He also thanked and encouraged Fr. Pietro Felet for his work within the Episcopal Commission for Pilgrimages. On this occasion, Bishop Shomali praised the collaboration and success in terms of the organization of the World Day of Faith in Nazareth last November.
As for the rumors of cancellation of the Pope’s visit to Israel, conveyed by some media last week, the Israeli Minister just mentioned “freedom of expression, sometimes excessive, of the media” while emphasizing that “the strike will soon, hopefully, come to an end.”