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Vatican, Israel nearing conclusion of long-awaited diplomatic pact

Catholic World News - July 18, 2011

The long-running negotiations between the Vatican and Israel, designed to produce an agreement on the legal and financial rights of the Church in the Holy Land, may be close to success, Our Sunday Visitor reports.

After years of desultory progress, the two sides have reportedly reached substantial accord on the legal document. A few questions remain about the financial agreement, which would govern the taxes paid by Catholic institutions. Israeli negotiators are reluctant to offer concessions that would encourage Muslim institutions to demand the same privileges. The Vatican is arguing that Church institutions should pay no taxes until an agreement is signed.

"We are trying to find acceptable compromises," said Archbishop Antonio Franco, the apostolic nuncio in Israel. He declined to comment on whether an agreement might be reached within the next year.

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