Vatican marks 25 years of diplomatic relations with Israel

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel last week by calling for a shared commitment to religious freedom and combatting antisemitism.

“The peace process and the future of the region are in the heart of the pope and the Holy See,” Parolin said 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 antisemitism,” 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.

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 combating antisemitism, the promotion of academic exchanges, and cooperation in encouraging 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. Pope John Paul II in 2000, Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and Pope Francis in 2014.

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