About Us

The Holy See and Palestine have a longstanding relationship based on the shared values of love, peace and justice for all of God's children. As early as 1947, the Holy See played an important role in lobbying for the protection of Christian sites in Palestine, ahead of a prospective UN partition plan. When Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) happened in 1948, whereby two thirds of the Palestinian population was exiled at the hands of Zionist militias, the Catholic Church lost several communities equating to thousands of Palestinian Christians as a result of the Nakba. A number of churches, cemeteries and religious shrines were also destroyed. Responding to the situation, the Vatican provided humanitarian support to Palestinian refugees through the Catholic Church in Palestine and neighboring countries. This understanding of the Palestinian situation led to the establishments of the Pontifical Mission and later CARITAS-Jerusalem (after the 1967 war), both Rome based organizations which continue to support the people of Palestine and its institutions to this day. 

2014 Palestine further strenghthens its relations with the Holy See 

2013 The Vatican welcomes a new Pope, Francis I, and a new Palestinian Ambassador, H.E Issa Kassissieh, presenting his credential on October 2013

2013 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Msg Giuseppe Lazzarotto as the new Apostolic Delegate to Palestine

In 2013, in Bethlehem, the Pope repeated the official position of the Holy See: "Mr. President (H. E. Mahmoud Abbas) the Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at the peace within its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders. In the words of the late Pope John Paul II, there can be "no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness"

2009 - 2013 The Holy Land works towards justice

2009 Pope Benedict XVI visits Palestine after vicious Israeli assault on Gaza

2007 President Mahmoud Abbas appoints a new Ambassador to the Holy See, Shawqi Armali an experienced diplomat based in Brussel. Two Apostolic Delegates were appointed to Palestine, Msg Pietro Sambi (1998-2005) and Msg Antonio Franco (2005-2012)

2002 Cooperation with Holy See during Israeli siege of Nativity Church and construction of Annexation Wall

"The construction of the wall between the Israeli People and the Palestinian People is seen by many as a new obstacle on the road leading to peaceful cohabitation (...) In fact, the Holy Land does not need walls but bridges"

2000 Signature of the BASIC AGREEMENT between the Holy See and Palestine

1994 Pope John Paul II appoints Monsignor Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo as the Apostolic Delagate to Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine

1987 Pope John Paul II appointes Michel Sabbah as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (Roman Catholic) 


1980 Pope John Paul II supports Palestinian rights: "A sad condition was created for the Palestinian people, who were in conspicuous part excluded from their homeland"

1977 & 1978 Statements of Pope Paul VI: Pope Paul VI made several statements to the College of Cardinals, noting that the Christian shrines in the Holy Land would mean nothing if there were no Palestinians Christian population. He pointed out that the Christian in Palestine have been taking care of their Holy Sites for 2.000 years and urged the Cardinals to help maintain the Palestinians Christian presence in order to maintain the " Sacredness of Jerusalem".

1976 Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Cazzaroli visits Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Lebanon, marking the first official meeting between the Holy See and the PLO

1964 Pope Paul VI visits Palestine:  One of the most remarkable moments in the history of relations between Palestine and the Holy See was the visit by H.H Pope Paul VI to Palestine in 1964, where he met with the local church and saw the reality of the Palestinian people on the ground. This encourages H.H. to support the creation of important institutions, including Bethlehem University. The University celebrated its 40anniversary last October and has inaugurated over 14.000 young Palestinian, women and men.

1974 Pope Paul VI calls for the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people

1970 Catholic Figures all over the world respond to calls to support the Palestinian People: Many figures of the Catholic Church dedicated their time and efforts towards their achieving justice and peace in the Holy Land. The creation of the Palestinian chapter of the "Justice and Peace", a commission functioning under the auspices of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which was one of the important milestones in gaining international solidarity for the plight of the people of Palestine. The commission, which still exists under the guidance of Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabbah, is defined as Catholic resource, liaison and animation center to further the social mission of the Church. While in exile, the late Fr. Ibrahim Ayyad, a close confidant and personal envoy of President Yasser Arafat, participated in important lobbying and negotiation efforts in order to advance the rights of the Palestinian people. Hundreds of priests from all over the world responded to the calls made by Christian figures.