Pope Francis accepts a gift of a menorah as he visits with Israel's two chief rabbis.

Pope Francis accepts a gift of a menorah as he visits with Israel’s two chief rabbis, Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, with beard, and Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, not pictured, at the Heichal Shlomo Center in Jerusalem Courtesy of Catholic News Service; photo/Paul Haring.

ROME (RNS) As Pope Francis concluded his Middle East tour, officials were hoping to finalize a date for the historic peace talks he intends to hold at the Vatican.

Francis made headlines Sunday (May 25) when he invited Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to come to “my home” to pray for peace in a bid to kickstart the now stalled process.

The surprise invitation was issued after the 77-year-old pontiff celebrated Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square. Both leaders accepted the invitation within hours.

“Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment,” Francis said. “The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.”

While some media reports said the leaders would meet as early as June 6, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Monday (May 26) that a “precise date” had not been set as he was awaiting official confirmation from the two leaders.

“It will be in the Vatican but where exactly we do not know, nor do we know how many people will be present,” Lombardi said. “We need some patience to let this great initiative be concrete.”

Meanwhile Francis yielded to Israeli pressure by making an unscheduled visit to a memorial for terrorism victims at Mount Herzl to counter Israeli anger over his prayer a day earlier at the wall separating the West Bank from Israel.

“I pray for all these victims and all the victims of terrorism in the world,” Francis said in his native Spanish. “Please no more terrorism. It is a road with no end.”



  1. Sister Geraldine Marie

    I would suggest that the meeting be held as soon as possible with the announcement that world-wide prayer and worship services be held before, during and after the conference and that follow-up activities be initiated with all faiths involved.

    Finally, parents and other care-givers of the young: Please do NOT teach hate. It not only hurts the entire human race, it especially poisons and makes the person who holds it, desperately unhappy.

    • @Sister,
      You said, “with all faiths involved.”
      And then you said, “Please do NOT teach hate.”

      My heart breaks that such confounding dissonance escapes you.
      Though you clearly mean well. Such is the delusion of religion.

      There is no such thing as interfaith peace or love. You are simultaneously asking each religion to abandon their Holy books – including your own! While at the same time pretending you can keep them!


      Wherever religion is strong misery is infinite. The Holy Land is not full of LOVE AND PEACE – it is pure misery for most who live there. Just as is iran, Iraq, Pakistan…does this teach you nothing of the price of these delusions?

  2. Peace, Joy & Love come from desiring those things and working toward them!
    But Religion teaches FAITH must be defended first!
    And always with violence:

    “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
    “Execute them in front of me.” Jesus (Luke 19:27)
    “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints I am under…I am impatient to bring..estrangement.” (Luke 12:49-51)(NAV)

    “Allah wished to confirm the truth by His words, ‘Wipe the infidels out to the last.” (Qu’ran 8;7)

    “…We will go up and fight, according to all that Jehovah our God commanded us. And ye girded on every man his weapons of war.” (Torah: Deut 1:7)

    We delude ourselves that this is love.
    We delude ourselves that peace is possible under such nightmarish, fossilized philosophies.

    Peace will happen when we wake up and abandon this trash.
    We can avoid Armageddon – instead we are embracing the nonsense.

    • @Sister,
      I’m doing the best I can to spread peace by trying to help people out of religion and to enlighten them to the fragile planet we live on and the fragile people all around us who need help – not prayers.

      Nothing has brought more misery than religion; particularly monotheism.

      I donate to Doctors without Borders because they don’t preach – they just save lives :-)

  3. John Stefanyszyn

    …but to which ‘god’ will Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”), President Peres, and President Abbas be praying to for peace at the Vatican since each practices a different “religion”, since neither prays to the “same god”?
    Bergoglio….Catholic Christianism
    Abbas,,,,,,,,,Sunni Islam

    In addition to this, the Jews and the Muslims deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

    So to which ‘god’ will they be praying for “peace”?

    There is only one conclusion….they will be praying to the ‘god’ of FREEDOM…freedom of self-rights, freedom of self-religions.
    ….Bergoglio….freedom of rights and religions for the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the “non believers”, and the “others”.
    ….Peres……freedom and rights for Israel ( and they believe that it is right for them to repossess all of the land for Israel)
    ….Abbas…freedom and rights for the state and land of Palestine…the land that they believe is rightly theirs.
    = each believes to be right in their own eyes = I will serve and do good for myself first (XES) & my neighbor second = way of conflict (and not peace) as Cain killed Abel.

    And this ‘god of fortresses’ dictates that it is RIGHT (a right) to be free to worship ANY ‘god’.

    But there is Only One Creator, whose identity is clearly defined by His Son Jesus Christ….and He said that we are to worship the One and Only Creator and Him Alone, His Will Alone to serve in obedience and love….love for Him and love for the neighbor.

    Note…soon the Lord Jesus Christ will return to rule the earth in power according to and in obedience to the Will of the One and Only Creator and NOT according to man’s first love for “his freedom”.

    John Stefanyszyn

    • So although you recognized the right of free exercise of religion exists, you don’t believe in it. It just gets in the way of Christianity. Why bother co-existing in peace when you can give offense instead?

      You described the exact reason why Christians generally do not deserve respect. They show none to others. Their idea of “love for they neighbor” is only premised on worshipping exactly the same as they do.

  4. Sister Geraldine Marie

    The best recommendation I can give to believers and non-believers alike is to read C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” He started life as a nominal Christian, then became an unequivocal atheist and then became a very “reluctant” (his words) Christian. For those of you who may not be familiar with this author under any of his numerous other works, I know you will recognize “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which he also wrote. I suggest that you read them, too, rather than rely on the movie versions which didn’t do justice to these marvelous stories, in my opinion.

    Blessings! And well done Max, for your charity!

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