Pope calls upon government of Israel, Palestine to come together to pray for peace
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/25/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to visit Rome, Pope Francis called upon the leaders to pray at the Vatican for peace between their nations. The pope made the request on Sunday after praying the "Regina Coeli" at the end of Mass that Abbas attended in Manger Square, in Bethlehem, West Bank.
The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi confirmed that the pope had been praying as he stood against the wall.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Arriving at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Pope Francis was greeted by Peres and by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The pope repeated his invitation to Peres using exactly the same words with which he had invited Abbas.
He also urged Israel to stay on the "path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace," saying "there is simply no other way.
"The right of the state of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders must be universally recognized," the pope said. "At the same time, there must also be a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement."
Pope Francis likewise condemned the previous day's shootings at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where three people, including two Israeli citizens, were killed.
The pope arrived in Israel on the last leg his May trip to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and the West Bank.
On the way to the Bethlehem Mass, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray before a controversial separation wall, built by Israel over Palestinian protests, between its territory and the West Bank.
The pope unexpectedly stopped to walk over to the graffiti-covered structure and rested his forehead against it in silence for a few moments. The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi confirmed that the pope had been praying as he stood against the wall.
The stop was an important gesture of the pope's understanding of the significance of the wall and was a manifestation of his identification with the suffering of the people, even though he made no mention of the wall in his spoken statements.
The spokesman also told journalists no date had been set for the prayer session in Rome, but that he hoped it would be soon. Father Lombardi said as far as he knew no pope had ever issued a similar invitation.
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