‘No Political Agenda,’ Pope Francis Joins Israel, Palestine for Peace Prayer Summit (PHOTOS)

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa
June 9, 2014 11:54 AM EST

‘No Political Agenda,’ Pope Francis Joins Israel, Palestine for Peace Prayer Summit (PHOTOS)

In a move Vatican officials continue to insist bear 'no political agenda,' Pope Francis managed to gather the presidents of warring Israel and Palestine in the gardens of Vatican on Sunday as all three prayed for peace.


The event was the culmination of an invitation the spiritual leader of the 1.2-billion strong Roman Catholic church extended to President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in his visit to the Holy Land in May.


Sunday's unusual yet exclusive peace summit was droned with Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers.


Pope Francis, Peres and Abbas rode together in a small bus to the garden, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian leader, to get to the Vatican gardens.


"Peace is a gift of God, but requires our efforts. Let us be people of peace in prayer and deed," Pope Francis tweeted from his @Pontifex account on the eve of the summit.   "Prayer is all-powerful. Let us use it to bring peace to the Middle East and peace to the world."


Pope Francis thanked the two presidents of the bickering Middle East nations, saying their presence in the event was a "great sign of brotherhood which you offer as children of Abraham."


"All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity," Reuters quoted Pope Francis' speech which he relayed in Italian.


"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; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities," he said.


Before the event, Israel's Peres remarked he hoped it "will contribute to advancing peace between the parties, and in the world." However, the 90-year old leader vacates the post in July. Negotiations with Palestine are currently being headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who did not attend the event.


Tourists milling around St. Peter's Square on Sunday hope and pray the event will make a difference.


"His gesture can help solve the situation," the New York Times quoted Esteban Troncosa. "His message has always been to stop wars, and avoid any form of violence. I am sure this can make a difference. The pope can't sign political agreements, but he is a symbol and can make people and politicians think."





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