According to Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, the trip was taken as a spiritual measure to prepare Dolan and his staff for upcoming events in the Vatican. Dolan will not be meeting with any Israeli or Palestinian officials during his stay in Israel. “I am not meeting with political leaders this time,” the Archbishop told the New York Daily News. “I look forward, please G-d, to doing that in future.”
Designated as a soon-to-be cardinal along with 21 others by Pope Benedict XVI on January 6, Dolan expressed his excitement at his current life situation. “It is a good time for me, personally,” he said. “It is a time of transition, a pivotal moment to turn to the L-rd for reflection.”
The Archbishop is one among a number of prominent officials of distinct faiths, creeds, and nationalities, who regularly make headlines during their visits to the Holy Land.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird is another such official. In a trip to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem on Monday, Baird discussed Canada’s relationship with Israel. “Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada,” he told the audience, who gathered to celebrate the inauguration of a new museum wing. “Canada does not stand behind Israel… Canada stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel,” he emphatically added. Baird then made a “confession”: “I am not Jewish,” he stated, “but I have a rabbi.” The Foreign Minister went on to introduce Chaim Mendelsohn of the Canadian Federation of Chabad Lubavitch, who had joined Baird in his visit to Israel.
In related news, a Sri Lankan delegation has also journeyed to the Holy Land on a political mission. “This is a goodwill visit and was the result of an invitation sent from Israeli parliament,” a source close to the delegation confirmed, according to the Daily Mirror. Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva and Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Deputy Minister Neomal Perera, and Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Kithulgoda were among the diplomats making the trip.