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The Italian Prime Minister on a brief visit to the Patriarchate

The Italian Prime Minister on a brief visit to the Patriarchate

Jerusalem – On Wednesday 22 July 2015, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Mgr Fouad Twal welcomed at the Patriarchate the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, on an official visit in the country.

After a long and intensive day during which he delivered a speech at the Knesset and later met in Bethlehem Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Matteo Renzi came over in late afternoon for a lightning visit to the Latin Patriarchate.

The visit started by a short meeting between the Prime Minister and the Patriarch before proceeding to the receiving hall of the Patriarchate where a large delegation of Church figures was waiting for the Italian statesman. The delegation included the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos, Latin Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and in Palestine Mgr William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel Mgr Boulos Marcuzzo, Bishop Emeritus Mgr Kamal Bathish, as well as the secretary of the Apostolic Delegate and many clergy of the Latin Patriarchate, staffers and media men.

No official speech was said, because of lack of time. But an informal discussion got under way during which Patriarch Emeritus, Mgr Sabbah, explained to the illustrious guest, with his usual precision, his vision regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

From his side, the PM showed both simplicity and interest to know the persons who were there to welcome him, himself who comes from a Catholic family and in his youth was a scout boy.  The meeting included also some priests of the Latin Patriarchate who knows his brother-in-law, priest as well in Italy.

Matteo Renzi visited Bethlehem three years ago when he was still mayor of the town of Florence to sign a twinning agreement with the mayor of the City of the Nativity.

When he was nominated as President of the Council of Ministers at the age of 39, Matteo Renzi was the youngest Prime Minister in the history of Unified Italy.  He supports the idea of a two-state solution, as a mean to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Firas Abedrabbo