Vatican denies cancelation of Pope Francis trip to Israel

( The Vatican denied reports that Pope Francis was forced to cancel his planned trip to Israel in May due to a labor dispute within the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

"The strike may create difficulties but for now there is nothing further as far as we are concerned," said Father Frederico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, the Jerusalem Post reported.

A source at the Israeli Foreign Ministry had told the Times of Israel that the Vatican had to cancel the trip because most of the ministry’s workers are on strike and cannot make the necessary arrangements for the trip.

Pope Francis, who has garnered considerable acclaim from Jewish leaders for his push for stronger Jewish-Christian relations, announced the trip to Israel and Jordan in January. The visit is scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s visit in 1964.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Workers Union is pushing for higher wages and better working conditions for diplomats serving abroad.

Posted on March 6, 2014 .