VATICAN CITY, March 7 (UPI) -- A strike by Israeli diplomats will not derail Pope Francis's planned trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories in May, a Vatican spokesman said Friday.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, said the trip is going "according to plan," the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Employees of the Israeli foreign ministry, both at home and overseas, walked out this week after a seven-month mediation failed to produce agreement, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. The Vatican had said the strike was complicating arrangements for the trip.
Francis is scheduled to be in Israel from May 24 to May 26.
The pope is currently in the Lenten season, which began on Ash Wednesday this week. In his homily Friday at St. Martha's House, his Vatican residence, Francis spoke of the importance of charity, describing it as "breaking the chains of evil, freeing the oppressed, sharing our bread with the hungry, opening our houses to the homeless and clothing the naked."