Relations Between Israel and The Holy See
The establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See (under the terms of a Fundamental Agreement signed in Jerusalem in December 1993) may be viewed as a step of major significance in a historic process of change in the Church's attitude to Judaism and the Jewish people, publicly initiated by the declaration known as Nostra Aetate, issued by the Second Vatican Council in 1965.
In their Fundamental Agreement, Israel and the Holy See noted the "unique nature of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people..." and committed themselves to "appropriate cooperation in combating all forms of antisemitism and all kinds of racism and religious intolerance, and in promoting mutual understanding among nations, tolerance among communities and respect for human life and dignity," and "the peaceful resolution of conflicts among states and nations, excluding violence and terror from international life." Other obligations concern the Status Quo regime affecting the Christian Holy Places, questions relating to freedom of religion, pilgrimage to the Holy Land and other matters.
In November 1997, an agreement was signed in Jerusalem defining the status of the Catholic Church in Israel and its hierarchy under Israeli law. This marks the first de jure recognition of the Catholic Church by any government in the Holy Land.
In March 2000, Pope John Paul II came to Israel on a personal pilgrimage of the Holy Places. As Head of State he met with President Weizman and Prime Minister Barak. Other events of the visit included meetings with the Chief Rabbis and a visit to Yad Vashem and to the Western Wall. The visit emphasized the continuing process of understanding between Judaism and the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, who was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and of the Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, visited Israel in November 2001 and met with President Katsav and the Chief Rabbis. During his visit, Israel and the Catholic Church announced the establishment of a Steering Committee, to comprise representatives of the Chief Rabbinate and the Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. The committee will conduct the inter-religious dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jews of Israel, as part of the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic Church and Jews throughout the world.
Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs