Pope Francis told an Israeli official Wednesday that he will visit Israel, The Times of Israel reported
. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who met with the Pope during an official trip to the Vatican Wednesday, invited Francis to visit the Knesset.
He said the Pope, replied emphatically, “I’ll come! I’ll come!” He did not provide a specific date.
Pope Francis had indicated during the summer that he would visit Israel next year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 visit to Jerusalem by Pope Paul VI.
That visit occurred at a time when the Vatican did not recognize the state of Israel and Jerusalem was divided, with Israel in control of the western part of the city and Jordan the eastern part.
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While flying back to the Vatican from a trip to Brazil in July, Francis told reporters that Israel had invited him to visit to mark the anniversary. The Pope said that if he went there he would visit the Palestinian Authority as well.
The future visit would be Francis’s second. He visited in 1973, arriving just as the Yom Kippur War broke out.
Israeli President Shimon Peres first invited Francis to Israel in April, immediately after his election as Pope.
Peres said the Pope would be a “welcome guest” as a “man of inspiration that can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area,” the Jerusalem Post reported
Francis would try to find time to come to Israel “in the near future,” the president’s office said in July.
Francis’two immediate predecessors — Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and Pope John Paul II in 2000 — both visited Israel.
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