Pope prays for peace with Israel and Palestine presidents

Pope Francis joined the presidents of Israel and Palestine in praying for peace in an “Invocation for Peace” at the Vatican on June 8.

During his recent visit to the Holy Land, Pope Francis invited Israel’s Shimon Peres and Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas to meet and pray together.

On June 8, the two presidents met Pope Francis separately at the Casa Santa Marta guesthouse where the pontiff lives.

The three were joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.

They were driven to the Vatican gardens, where prayer was interspersed with music.

The gardens were seen as a neutral place, free of the Christian symbolism that could offend the other two faiths.

Prayer was offered in the historic order of the three faiths, with Judaism first, then Christianity and finally Islam.

The prayers praised God for creation, asked pardon for sin, and requested the gift of peace.

The Pope and the two presidents spoke briefly about the need for peace.

Francis said the event was a “great sign of brotherhood which you offer as children of Abraham”.

But history reveals that peace cannot come merely through human strength, Francis noted.

He blamed the failure of peace talks to date on the devil, but called for courage in efforts to find peace.

Mr Peres said making peace was a “holy mission”.

Mr Abbas spoke of a “comprehensive and just peace”.

Both presidents spoke of the significance of Jerusalem for their faith traditions.

The three also planted an olive tree.

Vatican officials said the event was not a bid to push peace talks.

It is rather a “time out” from negotiations, with prayer potentially sparking a desire for peace.

Mr Abbas and Mr Peres know each other well, having signed Oslo peace accords in 1993.

Mr Peres is due to step down in a few weeks and is not involved in peace negotiations.

In April, US-backed peace talks broke down.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told paramilitary officers in Jerusalem that there had been prayers for peace for thousands of years.

But ultimately peace would come through armed strength by Israel, he reportedly said.


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