In a prayer conference last Sunday, Pope Francis called on the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to 'break the spiral of hatred and violence,' during an historic meeting of the two Middle Eastern Presidents at the Vatican.
Dear Presidents, our world is a legacy bequeathed to us from past generations, but it is also on loan to us from our children: our children who are weary, worn out by conflicts and yearning for the dawn of peace, our children who plead with us to tear down the walls of enmity and to set out on the path of dialogue and peace, so that love and friendship will prevail.
Many, all too many, of those children have been innocent victims of war and violence, saplings cut down at the height of their promise.
It is our duty to ensure that their sacrifice is not in vain. The memory of these children instils in us the courage of peace, the strength to persevere undaunted in dialogue, the patience to weave, day by day, an ever more robust fabric of respectful and peaceful coexistence, for the glory of God and the good of all.
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; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.
History teaches that our own powers do not suffice. More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the evil one, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it. 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. We have heard a summons, and we must respond. It is the summons to break the spiral of hatred and violence, and to break it by one word alone: the word 'brother.'
But to be able to utter this word we have to lift our eyes to heaven and acknowledge one another as children of one Father.
To him, the Father, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, I now turn, begging the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a daughter of the Holy Land and our Mother.
Lord God of peace, hear our prayer! We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried... But our efforts have been in vain. Now, Lord, come to our aid!
Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: 'Never again war!;' 'With war everything is lost.'
Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
- Pope Francis.
Read the full addresses of the leaders: The Jewish-Catholic-Muslim prayers for peace (The Tablet)
At the Vatican, no closer to peace, but perhaps a step away from war (The Times of Israel)
Prayer for Peace: Opening new horizons (Vatican Radio)
Pope, Peres, Abbas pray at Vatican (Catholic News Service)
A look at the sticking points between Israelis and Palestinians (Rome Reports/YouTube)