Church defaced with hate graffiti in Jerusalem weeks before the pope visits Holy Land

Police in Israel say vandals have defaced a church in Jerusalem just a few weeks before Pope Francis visits the Holy Land.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said "anti-Christian graffiti" was found on the outside wall of the church Friday morning. Rosenfeld said police were investigating.

It is the latest in a series of attacks believed to be the work of a small group of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government's pro-Palestinian policies. The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.

The Vatican on Thursday urged Israel to safeguard Christian holy sites.

Israel's internal security agency says it fears there could be similar attacks as the pope's visit approaches at the end of the month.