hursday – ALL ISRAELI DAY – at Israel’s largest Arab city, with a high percentage of Christians, where the Virgin Mary is believed to have been informed by the Archangel Gabriel that God had chosen her to bear a child, a very special child — and Mary agreed to accept the burden, even though she was not yet married.
Mary’s son, Jesus, was born in Bethlehem, he grew up in Nazareth, and preached throughout the Galilee and beyond, before being judged and condemned to die in Jerusalem (for blasphemy and insurrection). He was then crucified by Roman troops.
The grotto in the Church or Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth is where, it is believed, Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel. In the photo below, the Pope waves as he arrives for a prayer in the grotto of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
Pope Benedict XVI met Israel’s new Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, in office for the second time after February elections, just days before Netanyahu goes to Washington for an important meeting with the new U.S. President, Barack Obama.
The Pope and Netanyahu spent all of 15 minutes together. The Israeli Government Press Office later reported that “The meeting was characterized by a good atmosphere and continued longer than planned”.
According to the Associated Press, Netanyahu said “I asked him, as a moral figure, to make his voice heard loud and continuously against the declarations coming from Iran of their intention to destroy Israel”. Netanyahu later told Israel TV that “I told him it cannot be that at the beginning of the 21st century, there is a state which says it is going to destroy the Jewish state, and there is no aggressive voice being heard condemning this” … [This AP report noted that “While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel’s elimination, his exact remarks have been disputed, with some translators saying he called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’. Others say a better translation would be ‘vanish from the pages of time’ — implying Israel would disappear on its own rather than be destroyed. Since taking office on March 31, Netanyahu has emphasized the Iranian threat in an apparent attempt to put the Palestinian question on the back burner.] The AP report added that Netanyahu stated that Benedict said ‘he condemns all such things, anti-Semitism, hate’, adding: ‘I think we found in him an attentive ear’.”
AP also reported that “The Israeli leader called his meeting with Benedict ‘very good and important’, noting that the pope heads a church of 1 billion followers, and Israel wants good relations with them. ‘Secondly, we spoke also about the historic process of reconciliation between Christianity and Judaism. and the pope is very interested’,”Netanyahu said. The pope’s ventures into diplomacy reflected what Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi called the focus of his Middle East pilgrimage — ‘peace, peace, peace’. He said the pope could be a ‘bridge’ among the various positions”.
The Vatican also wanted something, according to AP: After the Pope’s meeting with Netanyahu, “Vatican officials also met with Israelis to discuss bilateral issues, including travel privileges for Arab Christian clergy, Lombardi said. The Vatican has asked Israel to allow 500 priests from Arab countries to receive visas to enter Israel at will. Interior Minister Eli Yishai refused the request on security grounds, a spokesman said, but Netanyahu pledged to re-examine the matter”. This AP report can be read in fullhere.
Earlier, shortly after arriving in Nazareth, the Pope said Mass on the Mount of the Precipice. It was the largest event on his tour of the Holy Land, with an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 attending.
Israeli GPO schedule
09:15 Arrival in Naz0areth, Welcoming Ceremony and the Ceremony of Bread and Salt – Reception by Mayor of Nazareth
10:00 Mass at Mount of the Precipice
15:50 Meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Church of the Annunciation
6:30 Meeting with the Faith Heads in Israel, Church of the Annunciation
17:30 Prayer at the Church of the Annunciation
= NOTHING FOR TODAY =