The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, welcomed His Holiness Pope Francis to the President's Residence in Jerusalem today. During the visit President Peres and Pope Francis conducted a work meeting, blessed Christian children suffering from cancer, planted a tree in the garden of the President's Residence and delivered speeches in Hebrew and Italian. At the beginning of the meeting Pope Francis thanked President Peres for the warm welcome and added that from the moment he entered the President's Residence he felt the blessing of one who had entered the home of wise and kind man. At the end of the work meeting President Peres handed Pope Francis and the Prime Minister of Vatican a file put together by the Israeli Security establishment which included a request that Pope Francis assist with any piece of information regarding Israeli's who had been taken hostage or were still missing.
During his speech President Peres accepted the invitation of Pope Francis to visit the Vatican for a joint prayer for peace and said, ""Your visit to the Holy Land is an important opportunity for a joint prayer to God in Heaven for peace. We would be honored to offer such a prayer either in our home or yours. In accordance with your kind offer."
President Peres addressed the peace process and said, "I welcome the encounters between the religious authorities and the political world that can serve to highlight the spiritual, moral and common foundations that connect them. Their ability to enhance political aspirations with the religious authority necessary to enable the compromises needed to achieve peace. I believe that your visit and call for peace will echo through the region and contribute to revitalizing the efforts to complete the peace process between us and the Palestinians, based on two states living in peace. A Jewish state – Israel. And an Arab state- Palestine. This solution can be reached by mutual agreement. I believe that the citizens of the region want peace. They pray for peace. They are ready for peace with their neighbors and with all the nations of our region. The threats of war will not bring peace. The dead will offer no praise. Only constructive perseverance can achieve peace. Only peace has the power to uproot poverty, overcome despair. Only peace can free people from tyranny. To the skeptics we shall say that we achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan, despite the fact that many saw this as a distant dream.
President Peres also thanked Pope Francis for his steadfast opposition to terrorism and anti-semitism and said, "Today, you are greeted here by a distinguished and diverse representation of Israeli society. They have come to bless you on inspiring by your very nature trust among the fallen and strength among the trodden. A combatant against discrimination, anti-Semitism and racism. Those who plant the seeds of evil today are the terror organizations. They have no pity and spread destruction. They kill without judgment, without distinction, without pity without logic. We must stand together to prevent the menace on the lives of people and on world peace. In the face of moral corruption we must show moral responsibility. And make clear that there is no greater contradiction than that between faith and murder. I appeal to all the religious and spiritual leaders of our time: Make your voices heard. With a clear message. know that you stand as firmly as a rock against any attempt to connect religion to terror. And that you aspire to create a common ground for global, regional and individual peace. We join you with body and soul in the effort to thwart murder and replace it by gates of peace."
In his remarks Pope Francis said, "I am grateful to you for your kind greeting and words of welcome. I am happy to be able to meet you once again, this time in Jerusalem, the city that preserves the Holy places. They are not monuments or museums but sacred places and protection must be given to their legacy. May Jerusalem truly be the city of peace, may her identity and sacred character shine forth as a treasure for mankind. How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy access to the Holy Places."
Pope Francis continued and said to President Peres, "You are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker. I appreciate and admire your approach. Peace-making is first and foremost respect for the dignity of every person, which Jews, Muslims and Christians believe were created by God. This conviction allows us to pursue peaceful solutions to every controversy and conflict. I renew my plea that all parties avoid actions which contradict attempts to reach the true peace with decisiveness. We must reject any attempts to impose ones point of view over others, anti-Semitism in all expressions and signs of intolerance against people and places." Pope Francis also said, "A variety of Christians live and work here, they are an integral part of society and participate fully in affairs. They wish to contribute to the common good and the cause of peace. They reject extremism and are committed to reconciliation and harmony. Respect for them is part of healthy pluralism and vitality of democratic values as embodied in the daily life of the state. "
Pope Francis ended his remarks and said, "I assure you of my prayers and I know you pray for me too. I assure you of my continued prayers for the institutions and people of Israel and my prayers for peace which includes security, tranquility and fraternity. My thoughts turn to all those afflicted by crises in the Middle East, I hope their pain will be alleviated soon by an end to hostilities. Peace be upon Israel and the entire Middle East. Shalom"
- Israel – The Magic Land at the Holy Land
- 230 Ukrainian Immigrants Arrive in Israel for Passover, Part of Effort to Rescue Embattled Jews
- Ambassadors Against BDS: 2,000 gather at United Nations HQ in New York in support of Israel
- Lauder welcomes Ban Ki-moon’s ‘long-awaited’ admission of UN bias against Israel
- New survey: 80 percent of impoverished Israelis believe their children will remain poor