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Archive for Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pontiff calls for Palestinian homeland

May 12, 2009

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— Pope Benedict XVI waded straight into Middle East politics Monday as he began a historic five-day pilgrimage meant to strengthen the Vatican’s strained relationship with Israel and boost his profile as a beacon of peace in the Holy Land.

Minutes after landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Benedict irked some Israeli politicians by calling for the establishment of a Palestinian homeland alongside Israel.

In his closely scrutinized afternoon visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, the one-time Hitler Youth conscript disappointed prominent Jewish leaders by voicing what they said was insufficient compassion for Holocaust victims.

The Vatican ended the day by distancing itself from a Muslim leader who delivered an unscheduled anti-Israel speech during an interfaith service with the pope at an historic church outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls.

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