The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Holy Land said, today, that Israeli hate crimes against local Muslims and Christians are souring relations ahead of a papal visit, AFP reports via Ma’an News Agency.’The unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere — the atmosphere of co-existence and the atmosphere of collaboration, especially in these two weeks prior to the visit of Pope Francis,’ said Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal, at a news conference in Haifa.

‘It is also a blight on the democracy that Israel ascribes to itself,’ he added.

This past Friday, Israeli nationalists desecrated a Jerusalem church with anti-Christian graffiti, and this just days after the church demanded Israel act on the discovery of further racist slogans found, this time, on Vatican-owned property, elsewhere in the city.

‘The bishops are very concerned about the lack of security and lack of responsiveness from the political sector, and fear an escalation of violence,’ the patriarch said in a statement, on Wednesday.

After the most recent attack, Israeli police allegedly moved to ‘boost security’ around holy sites.

The pope’s visit is scheduled to begin in Jordan on May 24, Ma’an reports. He is, then, due to spend two days in the Holy Land, starting May 25.