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Israeli, Palestinian presidents join Pope in prayers for peace

June 09, 2014

Pope Francis hosted an unprecedented prayer meeting at the Vatican on June 8, as Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined him to pray for peace.

"Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare," the Pope said in his own prepared remarks during the service. The willingness to engage in dialogue, even after repeated failures, will require "strength and tenacity."

The Pope said that he was "profoundly grateful" to the two leaders for accepting the invitation he had extended during his trip to the Holy Land. He also thanked Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who traveled to Rome to join in the prayer service.

The service, held in the Vatican Gardens, consisted for separate prayers in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, interspersed with music. The Pope and Presidents Peres and Abbas then each offered brief thoughts.

While few observers expected the meeting to produce any immediate or dramatic results, reporters saw the unexpected gathering as a powerful assertion of the Vatican's role in international diplomacy, as well as a prod to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa observed:

Francis wanted to throw a stone into a stagnant negotiation process, interrupted after the decision of Abu Mazen to create a national unity government with Hamas leaders, which was followed by the go-ahead announced by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for thousands of new settlements in the West Bank.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Petronius - Jun. 09, 2014 6:35 PM ET USA

    This gesture looks foolish. But I suspect it is the foolishness that will make us all proud in the future.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jun. 09, 2014 12:08 PM ET USA

    Amplifying my previous remarks. I do not believe that is an appropriate venue for Islamic or Jewish prayers. It will lead to confusion, scandal and some see this as supporting the heresy of Indifferentism.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jun. 09, 2014 12:06 PM ET USA

    I do not think that was an appropriate venue for Islamic or Jewish prayers.