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BETHLEHEM, West Bank (RNS) "The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good," Francis said at a welcoming ceremony in Bethlehem hosted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


  1. Sister Geraldine Marie

    I’m very pleased that Pope Francis invited Mr. Peres and Mr. Abbas to come to the Vatican to talk about a lasting peace in the Mideast and that the two leaders accepted. Now for the difficult part! Israel is against a two-state solution for the same reason that Egypt’s pharaoh, three or more thousand years ago, was afraid of the Israelites’ growth in numbers: They might take it into their heads to overthrow him! Given the history of the world’s attitude throughout the centuries regarding “the Jews”, it should be of no surprise to anyone with any knowledge of history, ancient or modern, why the Israelis are adamant about not having their country taken from them, again! I don’t think they would mind giving the Palestinian Christians equal rights because they are peaceful. The Muslims, on the other hand, keep threatening to destroy Israel, keep denying the Shoah occurred and keep acting in a violent manner, both inside Israel and in other countries. You see the dilemma? The Muslims would cry, “discrimination” if they were not given equal rights like the Christians, while I would say, common sense and self-preservation. I know there are peace-loving Muslims, but they aren’t as vocal as the fundamentalists or their lives would be in danger, too. This is an opportunity for fervent prayer among all peoples so everyone can worship and appreciate the land of three great religions without having to be afraid of violence.

    • Hello Sister. I too am pleased that Pope Francis invited these two leaders to the Vatican to talk. No opportunity should be missed to do so, regardless of people’s opinions of the likelihood of success. Continuous dialogue has shown to be an essential component in the resolution of other conflicts past.

      Israel’s concerns for its security are of course entirely valid. But for lasting peace to be achieved, security cannot be favoured for any one side at the expense of the other. Any injustice in the name of security will not achieve peace. I believe that until the principle of absolute justice is not invoked, peace cannot occur. Selective justice is not justice at all. Until the value of an Israeli’s life is considered by all, in deed as well as word, to be equal to the value of a Palestinians – not greater or less – peace will not occur.

      ‘Fundamentalists’ and those working against peace are found in all the monotheistic faiths and their voices may well be louder than those around them who are peaceful. But this should not be used as an excuse to negatively label all for the views/actions of the noisy or aggressive minority. Such labelling cannot be a way towards peace, but will rather only increase enmity. People should be judged not by their label of Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist etc., but by how they as individuals behave. If we resort to discriminatory generalisations, it becomes too easy and deceitful to see one’s own as good and dehumanise the ‘others’ as evil.

      I too join you in urging believers of whatever faith to pray – for peace and absolute justice for all. God bless all who do.