Holy Land : the Pope sends an appeal for peace
ROME: The wave of violence which shakes the Holy Land is of major concern to Pope Francis. During the Angelus prayer on Sunday, at St Peter’s Square, the Supreme Pontiff sent an appeal for calm.
“I am following with great concern the situation of high tension and violence which affects the Holy Land”, the Holy Father said during the Angelus prayer, in front of 80 000 faithful who came to attend Mass of Canonization.
“At this moment, he stressed, we need lots of courage and determination to say no to hatred and to vengeance, and to carry out peace gestures. For that, we pray, so that the Lord would instill in everybody, people of authority and citizens, courage to stand against violence and to carry out concrete steps that would lead to calm. In the present Middle East framework, it is imperative to establish peace in the Holy Land: that is what the Lord and Humanity expect from us”.
This resounding call was greeted by Mgr William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem: “We thank the Holy Father for his closeness. He talks like a father to both Palestinians and Israelis; he expects them to stand courageous, to stop reprisals – and he is right. Violence is to be condemned, whether coming from the Israeli or the Palestinian side”
Pope Francis had come on pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Jordan, Palestine and Israel) in May 2014, marking the 50th anniversary of the encounter between Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. In Bethlehem, he had invited the Israeli and Palestinian Presidents “to say together a genuine prayer invoking from God the gift of peace”.
Responding positively to the call, Shimon Peres, President at that time, and his counterpart Mahmoud Abbas walked into the gardens of the Vatican on June 8, 2014, for a meeting of historical prayer, in presence of Pope Francis, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, and several religious leaders, Christians, Jews and Muslims.