Pope prays for peace with Israeli and Palestinian presidents

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Invocation for Peace in the Vatican Gardens June 8. Credit: Alan Holdren / CNA.

Pope Francis welcomed the presidents of Israel and Palestine to the Vatican on Sunday evening for an unprecedented meeting of prayer, the “Invocation for Peace.”

Joined by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the three leaders prayed for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.

“I am profoundly grateful to you for accepting my invitation to come here and to join in imploring from God the gift of peace. It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,” said Pope Francis on June 8 in the Vatican gardens.

The Pope had issued the invitations on his recent trip to the Holy Land in late May. The presidents quickly accepted the invitation.

Presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas arrived separately to meet with Pope Francis individually in the Casa Santa Marta guesthouse. The three eventually met and were joined by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, before proceeding to the Vatican gardens for an “Invocation for Peace.”

The evening’s prayer was divided into three parts, following the chronological ordering of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious communities. Prayers were offered in Hebrew, English, Italian, and Arabic, praising God for creation, asking pardon for sin, and requesting the gift of peace.

Selections included several psalms, a prayer from the Jewish Day of Atonement service, a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, and several Islamic prayers.

After the prayers, Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas each spoke briefly about the need for peace.

“This meeting of prayer for peace in the Holy Land, in the Middle East and in the entire world is accompanied by the prayers of countless people of different cultures, nations, languages and religions: they have prayed for this meeting and even now they are united with us in the same supplication,” said Pope Francis.

“It is a meeting which responds to the fervent desire of all who long for peace and dream of a world in which men and women can live as brothers and sisters and no longer as adversaries and enemies.”

The pontiff then cautioned that “peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare.”

History reveals that peace cannot come merely through human strength, noted the Pope. “That is why we are here, because we know and we believe that we need the help of God. We do not renounce our responsibilities, but we do call upon God in an act of supreme responsibility before our consciences and before our peoples.”

Pope Francis encouraged those present to “break the spiral of hatred and violence” with the word “brother.” We must “lift our eyes to heaven and acknowledge one another as children of one Father,” he said.

Israeli President Shimon Peres then made a heart-felt appeal for peace, saying “I come to call for peace between nations.”

He, too, acknowledged that “peace does not come easy.” Even if peace “seems distant,” the Israeli president continued, “we must pursue it to bring it close.”

“We are commanded to pursue peace,” he emphasized.

Peres expressed his belief that “if we pursue peace with determination, with faith, we will reach it.”

He recalled that in his life, he had seen both peace and warfare. He would never forget the devastation caused by war.  

“We owe it to our children,” to seek peace, stressed Peres.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke in the words of a prayer, beseeching the Lord “on behalf of my people, the people of Palestine - Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans - who are craving for a just peace, dignified living, and liberty.”

“Grant, O Lord, our region and its people security, safety and stability. Save our blessed city Jerusalem; the first Kiblah, the second Holy mosque, the third of the two Holy Mosques, and the city of blessings and peace with all that surround it,” Abbas prayed.

The Muslim political leader affirmed, “reconciliation and peace, O Lord, are our goal.”

He prayed that God would “make Palestine and Jerusalem in particular a secure land for all the believers, and a place for prayer and worship for the followers of the three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and for all those wishing to visit it as is stated in the Holy Koran.”

The evening closed with a handshake of peace amongst the leaders, and the planting of an olive tree, symbolic of the desire for peace on behalf of each of the religious communities.


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Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

Kathryn Jean Lopez

It was in the general-purpose room of St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines that Donald Trump made his last pitch to Iowa voters, inside a caucus room. He wanted to make sure people remembered that not only will he build the wall on our border with Mexico, but that he’s the only candidate who will make Mexico pay for it.

Events

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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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