Pope Benedict XVI, invited by President Shimon Peres, is considering the possibility of visiting Israel in 2009.

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

A special Vatican delegation responsible for preparing Pope Benedict XVI’s official visits around the world, today (Wednesday), 10 December 2008, at President Shimon Peres’s Jerusalem Residence, met with President’s Residence Director-General Efrat Duvdevani, President Peres’s senior advisers, representatives from the Foreign, Religious Services and Interior ministries, and officials from Unit for VIP Security in order to discuss a comprehensive plan for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI, who is considering the possibility of visiting Israel in 2009.

It will be recalled that President Peres, during his September 2007 visit to Italy, invited Pope Benedict XVI to make an official visit to Israel, and said that it would be a great honor for Israel to host him and strengthen the message of peace, reconciliation and hope in the entire Middle East. At the same meeting, the Pope told President Peres that he would be pleased to visit Israel.  Details of the visit are now being discussed. President Peres sent an official invitation to Pope Benedict; all are now waiting for an official Vatican declaration regarding the planned visit.

Israel attributes great importance to the visit and is preparing to receive Pope Benedict XVI with full ceremony and official events that will strengthen ties between the State of Israel, the Holy See and the entire Christian world.