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Israel blocked priest

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Patriarch misses Vatican meeting after troubles with Israeli security

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem was unable to attend a meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican Jan. 18 because of security difficulties he encountered at Ben Gurion International Airport. A spokesman for the Jerusalem patriarchate said Patriarch Sabbah underwent an especially rigorous security check at the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, despite the fact that he carries a diplomatic passport, is a member of the clergy and leads the Catholic Church in Jerusalem. His suitcases were put through the X-ray security machine some three times, and when security personnel opened the suitcase and searched it, the patriarch took his bag and returned to Jerusalem. He called the Vatican and told them he would not be present at the meeting, where he was scheduled to be one of the main speakers, the spokesman said.

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