Meeting today at 11 am for about half hour, Pope Francis and Israeli President Shimon Peres exchanged prayers and expressed hope for a solution to the Mideast situation.
Israeli leader also invited the Holy Father to Jerusalem.
Speaking to the pontiff, Shimon Peres said, "I would
pray for you" in Assisi where he travels tomorrow. Earlier, he had asked Francis
"to pray for all of us".
Peres later met with the Vatican Secretary of
State Card Tarcisio Bertone, and Secretary for Relations with States Mgr
At the end of the meeting, described as
"friendly", the Vatican Press Office issued a press release in which it
listed the problems addressed, which the parties hope to see solved.
"A speedy resumption of
negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for," the statement
said, "so that, with the courageous decisions and availability of both sides as
well as support from the international community, an agreement may be reached that
respects the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively
contributing to the peace and stability of the region."
Growing Israeli settlements in Palestinian
territories have interrupted talks between Israel and Palestine, reducing
the chances of a solution based on the principle of "two peoples, two
The press release went on to say that "Particular worry for the conflict that plagues Syria was expressed,
for which a political solution is hoped for that privileges the logic of
reconciliation and dialogue."
In fact, a political solution is ever more
urgent at a time when some Israeli military leaders and segments of the country's
public are pushing for an Israeli military action against Damascus.
Together with United Nations, the Holy See continues
instead to call on the international community to promote internal dialogue in
The Vatican statement ended saying, "A number of issues
concerning relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and between
state authorities and the local Catholic communities were also addressed. In
conclusion, the significant progress made by the Bilateral Working Commission,
which is preparing an agreement regarding issues of common interest, was
appreciated and its rapid conclusion is foreseen."
However, a few days ago, the Latin Patriarchate
of Jerusalem called for a stop to the construction of the separation wall in
Beit Jala, in the Cremisan Valley, which threatens
to undermine the educational work provided by the Salesian Order to Palestinian
children, one example among dozens of the way the wall devastates the
lives, work and health of the Palestinian population.
At last, the two sides hope to see their 1994 Fundamental
Accord finally implemented. Over the years, Vatican and Israeli representatives
on the joint commission engaged in cordial talks, made progress, and remain
hopeful in a rapid conclusion that has not yet come.