Breaking News Stories
These are news stories breaking after the publishing of this Word
– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
Prediction 12: A visit by cardinals and/or the Pope himself to Jerusalem.
Pope accepts invite to Israel, urges
by Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged Israelis and Palestinians to
resume talks and make "courageous decisions" to bring peace after his
first meeting with Israel's President Shimon Peres on Tuesday and
accepted an invitation to visit the Holy Land.
The two discussed the civil war in Syria, tensions in Iran and the
scourge of anti-Semitism during half an hour of private talks in the
Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
The pope hoped for "a speedy resumption of negotiations" to reach an
agreement that respected the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and
Palestinians, the Vatican said.
Peres told the pope he believed "there is a chance" to open negotiations
and called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "a genuine partner for
peace", an Israeli statement added.
U.S.-sponsored negotiations on the creation of a Palestinian state
alongside Israel stalled in 2010 over a dispute about Israeli
settlements in occupied territories.
"I am expecting you in Jerusalem, not just me but the whole country of
Israel," Peres told the pope in the presence of reporters after the
The pope accepted the invitation "with willingness and joy", a Vatican
spokesman said, but there was no indication when a trip would be made.
A statement from Peres said he and the pope discussed anti-Semitism and
quoted the pope as telling Peres: "Anti-Semitism goes against
Christianity - as Pope I will not tolerate any expression of
Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, has focused
on building up relations with Jewish leaders and, when he was
archbishop, wrote a book with an Argentine rabbi, Abraham Skorka.
The Catholic Church's relations with Jews were revolutionised in 1965 by
a Second Vatican Council document that repudiated the concept of
collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus.
Both of Francis's two immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict
XVI, visited the Holy Land, including the Palestinian territories, in
2000 and 2009 respectively.
Peres asked Francis "to pray for all of us" and told the pope he would
pray for him during a trip on Wednesday to the central Italian city of
Assisi, where he will visit the tomb of St. Francis, whose name
Bergoglio adopted when elected.
(Editing by Andrew Heavens)