Israeli president Shimon Peres meets with Catholic bishops at his residence in Jerusalem, congratulating them for the election
of Pope Francis.
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Israeli president Shimon Peres meets with Catholic bishops at his residence in Jerusalem, congratulating them for the election of Pope Francis. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI PRESIDENT, SHIMON PERES, SAYING: "The holy pope is meaningful leader for all of us not just for the Catholic community." And Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian senior official, offered a welcome to the pope in the Holy Land. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAEB EREKAT, PALESTINIAN CHIEF NEGOTIATOR, SAYING: "President Abbas extended an invitation to his holiness to visit the Holy Land to visit Jerusalem to visit Bethlehem. We congratulate the pope, we congratulate the Vatican." And at Bethlehem's Nativity Church on Wednesday night, excited worshippers celebrated the news. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BISHOP WILLIAM SHOMALI, THE AUXILIARY BISHOP OF JERUSALEM, SAYING: "I was happy that the announcement of the election came quickly on the second day. It wasn't delayed. With my joy also there is a surprise because the new pope for me he was not known for me, I heard about him but because of his age, 76 years old, he was not mentioned by journalists and by many people." The Vatican said the new pope's inaugural mass would be on March 19.