By Marina Droujinina

As the end of the year approaches, Pope Francis had a telephone conversation with the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, reported the Italian Agency SIR on December 15, 2020. The exchange took place on December 14, specifies the Twitter account of the Embassy of Israel to the Holy See.

According to the presidential spokesman, ”the Pope thanked the President for his efforts aimed at building trust between peoples, and confirmed that he remembers him as a man of peace in his prayers.” The President “expressed his gratitude for the Pope’s profound friendship and invited him to inaugurate the project Land of Monasteries,” of which he spoke to the Pope during his two visits to the Vatican.

The Israeli President wished the Pope and Christians worldwide a Happy Christmas and Good Year. Pope Francis wished him in Hebrew a good feast of Hanukka” (“Hanoucca Sameach”), said the spokesman.

“During our last meeting, you prayed for peace in the Middle East, and, happily, your prayer was heard. We have a new era of peace agreements in the Middle East,” the Israeli President also said to the Pontiff.

The subjects of the coronavirus and vaccines were also raised in the course of the conversation. “Hanukka and Christmas,” said the President, “are two celebrations in the course of which families and communities generally come together. With the coronavirus restrictions, it will be very hard for all of us to celebrate. The President added that last month he “met the heads of Christian denominations” and that they work “in close collaboration to find solutions that take into account religious and health requirements.”

Land of Monasteries is a project created to promote tourism in the area of monasteries and churches along the Jordan, where, according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist baptized Christ and His disciples. These last years President Rivlin has promoted the project to enable more tourists to visit the region, in order to develop it as a place of pilgrimage. The work foresees collaboration with Jordanian partners located on the other side of the Jordan.

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