ROME, JULY 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The retiring apostolic nuncio in the Holy Land is urging people to have realistic expectations of Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation to be released in September. Specifically, he is reminding that it will not be a political program for finding solutions to the Middle East conflicts.
Archbishop Antonio Franco said this in an interview with the charity Aid to the Church in Need. The prelate is retiring this month, having turned 75 in March.
The Holy Father will entrust the postsynodal apostolic exhortation to the Church in September, when he visits Lebanon. The document springs from the October 2010 synod on the Middle East.
“Those who are expecting the Holy Father to provide a political program for solving the Middle East conflict are going to be disappointed,” Archbishop Franco said. “The Holy Father will certainly encourage the Christians in the Holy Land to work on fostering an atmosphere of reconciliation, in which political solutions can then also be found.”
The prelate suggested that the key message of the exhortation will be “community,” with the Pope encouraging closer contact both between the various rites of the Catholic Church and ecumenically, involving different Churches in the Holy Land.
Archbishop Franco said: “In this way the Christian communio can then have a positive impact on the Holy Land and its problems.”
Archbishop Franco was named the nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and the Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories in 2006.
During his service in the Middle East, he assisted with the Pope’s 2009 trip to the Holy Land and 2010 trip to Cyprus.
Archbishop Franco also played a major role in negotiating an economic agreement between Israel and the Holy See over Church institutions.