Note that days after the Vatican confirmed that it was planning for a papal visit to counterfeit Israel that the Israelis began showering the people of Gaza with U.S.-supplied bombs from their U.S.-supplied F-16's. And yes, these are the same people of Gaza whom the Israelis had prepared for these atrocities by confining them to a ghetto and depriving them of all basic life necessities for many months beforehand, cruelty which the Vatican has been quite mute about as far as I am aware. Benedict, in a grotesque mockery of papal diplomacy, has responded to these Israeli bombings with fake neutrality, equally condemning "violence" on both sides as if there were some parity between Gaza and "Israel" in these events and the conditions that preceded them. Benedict's response in essence would be somewhat similar to telling the Warsaw ghetto-confined "Jews" and the Nazis to stop fighting with each other (imagine the Judaic shrieking if that had happened!), and this from a man who is so often praised for his keen intellect. What a boost Benedict has given the Israelis who desire so much to exterminate the Palestinian people from Palestinian land and to accomplish this with the world thinking well of them for it.
There will be a Benedict XVI papal visit to that pit of evil which he calls the "Holy Land" and it seems that, now that their real estate issues may be close to a settlement, no war crimes or humanitarian disaster could stop it.
Pope trip to Holy Land still possible despite Gaza
Sun 28 Dec 2008
By Phil Stewart
VATICAN CITY, Dec 28 (Reuters) - A possible trip by Pope Benedict to the Holy Land should not be written off because of the escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Vatican's chief spokesman told Reuters on Sunday.
A papal trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, expected in the spring, would be significant for political and religious relations in the Middle East. It would also be the pope's first trip to the Holy Land since his election in 2005.
Rev. Federico Lombardi said that speculation in the Italian media that the Vatican was rethinking the trip because of the violence was "premature", even as the death toll neared 290 from the two-day Israeli offensive in Gaza.
"It's clear that (the Vatican) is following the situation, but it seems premature to say this incident is a determining or definitive factor," Lombardi said.
He added that the idea of a papal trip to the region had always been addressed "with a certain understanding that the situation is still a risky situation".
"The pope wants to make this trip. There have been contacts to prepare a draft programme and now we must wait to learn if there is a decision" to go ahead with it, he said, adding the final decision was up to the pontiff himself.
Benedict has repeatedly called for an end to the fighting in recent days, including during a high-profile appeal at Christmas. On Sunday, he pressed for all sides to abandon the "perverse logic of conflict and violence".
"The native land of Jesus cannot continue to be witness to so much bloodshed, repeating itself without end. I implore an end to that violence ... and for a renewal of the truce in the Gaza Strip," he told crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Vatican supports Israel's right to exist within secure borders alongside an independent Palestinian state and hopes a papal trip can help political and religious dialogue aimed at Middle East peace.
Two of Benedict's predecessors in modern times, John Paul II and Paul VI, also visited the Holy Land.
A trip by the pope to Israel could also help improve Catholic-Jewish relations, strained recently over wartime Pope Pius XII, accused by some Jews of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust.
The Vatican says that while Pius did not speak out against the Holocaust, he worked behind the scenes to help Jews because direct intervention would have worsened the situation by prompting retaliation from Hitler. (Editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Israel, Vatican eager to finalize talks before papal visit
By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service
JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Israeli and Vatican negotiators appear eager to finalize negotiations on fiscal and property matters prior to the pope's visit to the Holy Land, a source close to the negotiations said.
"Both the state of Israel and the representatives of the Holy See are very interested to finalize this," he said, adding that though he was unaware of any official policy, the pope's visit, reportedly in May, might be acting as an impetus for both sides to finish up negotiations.
In a statement following a plenary session at the Vatican Dec. 18, the negotiators said they have scheduled another plenary session for April 23 and four meetings of their working group which will take place starting in January with "the intent on both sides of accelerating the process and reaching an agreement as soon as possible."
The statement called the December meeting "significant and useful."
"Everybody is tired," said the source, who wished to remain anonymous. "The visit by the pope may be the time to finalize it."
Liars and thieves