MembersAvi Pazner: “My mission in Rome”

Avi Pazner was appointed as the Israeli ambassador to Rome in 1991.

By Aviel Schneider |
Vatican
Photo: GPO

As Israel’s envoy in Italy, he had direct contact with the Holy See, and was able to pave the way for diplomatic relations between Israel and the Catholic Church. In an interview with Israel Today, Pazner recalled:

“Prior to being sent to Rome, I had no interest in Christianity. But when he sent me out, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir gave me some advice: ‘Try to achieve what no one has been able to in the past 45 years – persuade the Vatican to recognize the State of Israel. This is very important for Israel!’

“So, I began to read everything I could about Christianity and the Catholic Church. I met with bishops and cardinals, and felt that there was good will on both sides. Even the theological problem had vanished following the Second Vatican Council in 1965, which had acquitted the Jews of crucifying Jesus. So, where was the problem?

“The problem was fear of the Arab world. The Vatican was fearful for the Christian church in the Middle East. The formerly theological problem had become a...

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