Vatican City, Jan 14, 2017 / 05:47 am
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Vatican Saturday before inaugurating his country’s new embassy to the Holy See, where he met with Pope Francis for a discussion focused largely on peace efforts in the Middle East.
Described as “cordial” in Jan. 14 communique from the Vatican, the discussion between the two began by making note of the good relations they enjoy, which were “sealed” by a Global Agreement made by them in 2015 recognizing the “essential aspects” of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine.
“In this context, mention was made of the important contribution of Catholics to favoring the promotion of human dignity and assistance for those most in need, especially in the fields of education, health and aid,” the communique read.
Conversation then shifted to the peace process in the Middle East, and hope was voiced that direct negotiations between the different parties “may be resumed to bring an end to the violence that causes unacceptable suffering to civilian populations, and to find a just and lasting solution.”
“To this end, it is hoped that, with the support of the international community, measures can be taken that favor mutual trust and contribute to creating a climate that permits courageous decisions to be made in favor of peace.”
An emphasis was also placed on the importance of “safeguarding the sanctity” of Holy Sites, which are frequently a source of division and conflict between the different faiths in the area, as well as other conflicts affecting the region.
After his 23 minute meeting with the Pope, Abbas then met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
He arrived at the Vatican at 10:10a.m. with his 10-15 person delegation and was met by the Pope, who told him in Spanish “It is a pleasure to receive you.” The president responded, saying “I am happy to be here.”