Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

20131202cnsbr2859 webPope Francis presents a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a private audience at the Vatican December 2. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Dec. 2, and discussed prospects for peace in the Middle East and the pope's still-unscheduled trip to the Holy Land.

The two met privately for about 25 minutes in the pope's library.

A statement from the Vatican press office said the leaders discussed the "complex political and social situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, hoping that a just and lasting solution may be found as soon as possible."

The pope's plans for a trip to the Holy Land also came up, but the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters no date had been set. Unofficial reports suggest the trip will be in May or June.

After their private meeting, the prime minister presented the pope with a book about the Spanish Inquisition's persecution of the Jews.

The book, "The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain," was written by the prime minister's father, Benzion Netanyahu, a noted historian who died in 2012 at the age of 102. It argues that Spanish Christians of Jewish origin were persecuted not for any religious deviations but because of racism and envy of their economic success.

The prime minister had inscribed his present, a copy of the book's Spanish edition, "To His Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage."

Netanyahu also gave Pope Francis a silver menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum used in celebrating the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, sitting on a silver tray with a little silver oil pitcher.

The pope gave Netanyahu a bronze plaque bearing an image of St. Paul.

It was the two men's first meeting, but Netanyahu had met with Blessed John Paul II in 1997 and with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.