Pope to Visit Israel in May
Papal trip comes as relations tense between Vatican, Israel
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2009 4:00 PM CST
The Vatican has said that Pope Benedict XVI didn't know about the anti-Semitic views of Bishop Richard Williamson, pictured, when he agreed to lift the bishop's excommunication last month.   (AP Photo/Courtesy SVT)
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(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel this May amid diplomatic tensions between the Vatican and the Jewish state, the New York Times reports. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed the visit today after the pontiff hinted at a trip last week. “We very much hope that the visit will be held in an appropriate atmosphere,” Olmert said.

Controversy arose last year when the Vatican considered beatifying Pope Pius XII, accused of inaction during the Holocaust, and more recently when Pope Benedict XVI reversed the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop. Benedict will also likely visit the West Bank and Jordan during his trip to Israel, which he called “holy for Christians as well as Jews.”