by Josephine McKenna
Before the solemn ceremony, Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, warmly embraced and joked together inside the pope’s Santa Marta residence as a smiling Francis looked on.
The Middle East leaders were joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, and proceeded to the Vatican gardens for a tightly orchestrated 90-minute ceremony that was notable for the absence of any religious symbols.
Earlier, in St. Peter’s Square, a handful of protesters waved Palestinian flags in a bid to send a stronger political message to what the Vatican previously described as a “pause from politics.”
“It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,” Francis said.
“Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict, yes to dialogue and no to violence.”
For more on this story, visit: Pope Francis Calls for ‘Courage’ Toward Peace Between Israel, Palestine – Josephine McKenna | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.