The Israeli president extended the invitation to Frances shortly after the pontiff’s appointment in March. Now, the Vatican says the pope will travel to Israel next year to honor the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s visit to Jerusalem in 1964.
“The government of Israel granted me a unique opportunity to come to Jerusalem,” Francis said Monday.
“The sooner you visit the better, as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace,” Peres said upon initially extending the invite.
Pope Francis originally visited Israel in 1973, before he was appointed head of the Holy See. Peres’ office said in a statement that Francis would come again “in the neat future.”
Pope Benedict XVI traveled to the Jewish state in 2009 and Pope John Paul II visited in 2000.