Israel issues stamps commemorating Pope John Paul II

 At a meeting last week between Pope Benedict XVI and Israel's Communication Minister Dalia Itzik, Minister Itzik presented the Pontiff with a special edition of stamps issued by the State of Israel in memory of John Paul II, the Jerusalem Post reported. "Our meeting was very warm and much more informal than I had expected" said Itzik. "We told him that ours was just a modest way of honouring the memory of John Paul II for his very important contributions to Christian-Jewish and inter-religious understanding, his initiating diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, and his condemnation of anti-Semitism. I said that as an educator, I found the prayer on the note he slipped into the Western Wall and the gesture itself had more impact than any amount of lessons could have had. And we believe that Pope Ratzinger will continue on the path forged by John Paul II of strengthening these ties." Itzik gave the Pontiff a sheet dated April 20, 2005, with six stamps showing the famous photo of John Paul II robed in white, slipping his prayer into the Western Wall against a brick red background. She also gave the Pope a letter from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressing his hope that the Catholic Church will focus strong efforts to the development of peace and the understanding in the region and inviting his Excellency to Israel as his personal guest. The Pontiff replied that he was "very happy" to receive the invitation and that although his schedule was very tight, visiting Israel would certainly be "a priority" for him. One thousand representatives of Israel's Christian community were invited to the Knesset yesterday, where they were presented with a gift of the commemorative stamps. Bishop Giacinto- Boulos Marcuzzo, head of the Latin Patriarchy in Israel, stated that Israel is the first country to issue a stamp commemorating the Pope. He also said that the issuing of an Israeli stamp portraying the Pope, carries the message of peace and understanding between the two religions. Source: Israeli Embassy Press Office

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