Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday presented Syrian-born Archbishop Hilarion Capucci with a medal of honor in Rome for his longtime aid to the Palestinian people.

Capucci, born in Aleppo in 1922, is the retired titular archbishop of Caesarea for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

He was imprisoned by Israel in the past for security offenses.

In 1974, Capucci, then an East Jerusalem resident, was arrested by Israeli security forces for smuggling arms into the West Bank for the Palestinian Liberation Army (the military wing of the PLO), using his diplomatic status as cover. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but was released two years later due to pressure from the Vatican.

Abbas was scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican later Thursday.