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Gerusalemme Latin Patriarch Of Jerusalem Wishes For End To COVID

(Associated Press Television News) A ban on nearly all incoming air traffic by Israel -- the main entry point for foreign visitors heading to the occupied West Bank -- kept international tourists away for a second consecutive year. -- The top Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, hoped Friday for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic as he addressed Christian faithful in the seat of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. Pizzaballa said the Christian community was working to find a balance between precautions to maintain health but also get pilgrims back into the Holy Land. "It's very sad to see the Old City almost empty," Pizzaballa said. A ban on nearly all incoming air traffic by Israel -- the main entry point for foreign visitors heading to the occupied West Bank -- kept international tourists away for a second consecutive year. The ban is meant to slow the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, which has shaken Christmas celebrations around the world. Pizzaballa was scheduled to celebrate Midnight Mass at the nearby Church of the Nativity — which houses the grotto where Christians believe Jesus was born. The Holy Land is home to over 200,000 Christians, a small but tight-knit community that makes up an estimated one to two percent of the population in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

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