Church official: Pope has potential to ‘untie knots’ in negotiations between Holy See, Israel
April 17, 2013
Father David Neuhaus, the Jesuit responsible for the pastoral care of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Holy Land, said after a meeting with Pope Francis that the Pontiff has the potential to “untie knots” in diplomatic negotiations between the Holy See and the State of Israel.
“We were presented one by one to the Pope, and when I came to him I underlined the fact that I’m a Jesuit by saying, ‘Here I am, representing the Hebrew-speaking communities, I’m a Jesuit among diocesans and a Jew among Arabs,’” recounted Father Neuhaus, who is a convert from Judaism. “And he smiled and turned to the [Latin] Patriarch [of Jerusalem] and said, ‘Oh, another one who has the virus!’ And there was a clear sign of joy in the eyes of the Pope to see there is another Jesuit, out there somewhere on the margins, trying to serve the universal Church.”
“This is a Pope who also had a deep, deep relationship with Jews in Buenos Aires, so also from that point of view of interreligious dialogue he seems to be very much understanding what’s going on and what the issues are,” Father Neuhaus continued. “Relations between the Holy See and Israel are complex, the negotiations have been dragging on for a very long time … Here again I think Pope Francis’ directness, his honesty, his clear elaboration of what is going on in any particular situation might indeed help untie some of the knots in these negotiations.”
“Of course relations with the State of Israel are intimately connected with relations with the rest of the Middle East, and we really hope that Pope Francis will be able to be a bridge to bring the parties closer together, so that they will adopt a discourse of respect and understanding of each other, so that Christians in the Middle East can live in an atmosphere where peace and justice are part of their daily lives,” he added.