ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS PONTIFF
Vatican, Dec. 11 (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II met on Thursday with Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom.

In a cautiously worded statement released after the meeting, the Vatican said that the conversation had involved "the path to follow in order to obtain peace in the Holy Land." The Vatican indicated that the Pope had stressed "the need for concrete acts of reconciliation on both sides."

Vatican officials have recently criticized both Israeli and Palestinian leaders for their failure to pursue realistic peace options. The Holy See has been particularly critical of Israel's erection of a security wall across Palestinian territory.

The conversation also included some discussion of bilateral relations between the Catholic Church and the state of Israel, under the terms of the "fundamental accord" signed by the Holy See and Israel in 1993.

Following his meeting with the Pope, Shalom also met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican Secretary of State and Secretary for Relations with States, respectively.