Ten years ago: Meeting with Presidents of Israel and Palestine in the Vatican

Pope renews historic appeal: "Plead for peace in the Middle East"

Vatikanstadt - Ten years ago, the presidents of Israel and the Palestinians prayed together for peace at the Pope's invitation - an almost unimaginable gesture today. Now Francis has renewed his appeal all the more urgently.

Published  on 08.06.2024 at 11:06  – 

Ten years after the historic prayer for peace between the presidents of Israel and Palestine in the Vatican, Pope Francis has renewed his appeal. "We are here today to implore peace," he said on Friday evening at a commemorative ceremony in the Vatican Gardens. On 8 June 2014, Israel's President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had planted an olive tree there at the Pope's invitation, embraced each other and pledged their commitment to peace.

In view of the Gaza war, it is particularly important to remember that event, Francis said in front of representatives of Judaism and Islam, 23 cardinals and members of the diplomatic corps, including the ambassadors of Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and Russia. "For months now, we have been witnessing how hostility is spreading and we see many innocent people dying before our eyes," said the Pope.

"I think of all those who are suffering in Israel and Palestine: Christians, Jews and Muslims." He urgently called for a ceasefire, the release of the Israeli hostages and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian population. Everyone must work towards "achieving a lasting peace in which the state of Palestine and the state of Israel can live side by side by tearing down the walls of enmity and hatred". Jerusalem must become a city of fraternal encounter between Christians, Jews and Muslims, protected by a statute guaranteed at international level.

Admonition for peace

War never brings solutions or even peace. "It is always about power struggles between different social groups, about particular economic interests and about international political considerations that aim for an apparent peace and run away from the real problems," warned Francis.

The olive tree, which was planted in 2014 as a sign of peace, may continue to grow, said the Pope: "It has already become strong and lush because it has been protected from the winds and watered with care," he said. "In the same way, we must ask God that peace may sprout in the heart of every person, in every people and nation, in every corner of the earth, protected from the winds of war and watered by those who strive every day to live in fraternity."

"To all believers and people of good will, I would like to say: let us not stop dreaming of peace and building peaceful relationships," said the Pope. "Never again war!" He concluded with the words "Shalom, peace, salaam!". (KNA)