Can Pope Francis’ Prayer with Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Advance Peace in the Middle East?

June 6, 2014 by

In his extraordinary recent trip to the Holy Land, Pope Francis called on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work for peace, which he called “a gift of God and commitment of men…” In poignant gestures — praying at the separation wall that divides Israelis from Palestinians and kissing the hands of Holocaust survivors — he conveyed respect, understanding and solidarity. These images spread quickly around the world.

On Pentecost Sunday, June 8, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres will join Pope Francis in Rome to pray for peace between their peoples. Is this just symbolism? Or is something more powerful at work? What real impact could the Pope’s involvement have in this long-standing conflict? What’s happening on the ground? And what difference can U.S. policy make?

On Friday, June 6, in Washington, DC, Catholic Relief Services’ Chief Operating Officer Sean Callahan will moderate a panel discussing the questions surrounding Pope Francis’ prayer meeting. Panelists include Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Human Development at Georgetown University and Ronit Avni, Founder and Executive Director at Just Vision.

Related article:
Pope Francis, Peres and Abbas to Pray for Peace at the Vatican

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