Pope Francis was joined in the Vatican yesterday by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres, as they came to him along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople in an unprecedented “Invocation for Peace” hosted by the Holy See. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders were invited to come to the Vatican to pray for peace by the Holy Father during his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. “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,” Pope Francis said in remarks at the Vatican Gardens.
At the unique service held in the Vatican Gardens, parts of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim orders of prayer were represented. Prayers in thanksgiving for creation, atonement for sin, and asking for the gift of peace were offered at the service. Prayers were offered in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Italian. “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,” the Holy Father said. “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 Pope explained, “peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. 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.”
In the wake of a busy day yesterday celebrating the feast of Pentecost as well as the service for peace, Pope Francis is taking the day off today to rest.