Benedict XVI met Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday. Olmert was visiting Rome as part of a series of visit to European capitals.
The Holy Father and Olmert discussed the issue of Middle East peace as well as issues “concerning the situation of the Catholic community in Israel, also in view of the forthcoming Christmas celebrations.
The meeting took place in the study of the Nervi Hall and lasted 15 minutes.
Olmert also met the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone.
In a joint press conference with Italian leader Romano Prodi in Villa Madama, Olmert said that he “invited the Pope to visit Israel”. The pontiff – added Olmert – “has indicated his availability on principle. Naturally, the time shall be defined later”.
In a declaration to ANSA, Cardinal Bertone said that a visit to Israel by the Pope “would not be possible if not in conditions of peace or at least a stable and secure ceasefire”.
As for the talk with the Holy Father, Olmert said: “I had a very moving meeting with the pope, I cannot go into details. I can say that he is a very well prepared person on the minimum details" of the situation in the Middle East.
Olmert has a working lunch with Romano Prodi, who assured him of Italy’s continued efforts to work for peace in the Middle East – through the ‘road map’ – especially as Italy shall be in the Security Council starting in January.
For Prodi, the achievement of peace in the Middle East must happen, “through the renunciation of violence and according to the principle of the recognition of the state of Israel, a recognition as a Jewish state".