"We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfill its destiny."
In his general audience, Pope Francis noted how Jerusalem is a "unique city" that is considered holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Because of this, he said the city has "a special vocation for peace."
"I ask the Lord that this identity be preserved and reinforced for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a global panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts," he said.
Prior to his general audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders for a scheduled audience, urging dialogue that is respectful of everyone's rights in the Holy Land. He also voiced his hope that "peace and prosperity" would prevail for the Palestinian people.
On his trip to Burma and Bangladesh, Francis said it was "a great gift from God," and thanked the civil authorities and bishops of each country for their welcome and for everything they did to prepare for the trip.
He noted how his Nov. 27-30 visit to Burma marked the first time a Pope has ever traveled to the country, which took place just months after the Holy See established full diplomatic relations with the nation in May.
"I wanted, also in this case, to express the closeness of Christ and of the Church to a people that has suffered due to conflict and repression, and which now is slowly walking toward a new condition of freedom and peace," he said.
Burma, a majority Buddhist country where minorities, including Christians, often face stigma and discrimination, is still working to transition to a democratic government after more than 50 years of military rule, while also facing harsh criticism from the international community over what the United Nations has called a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims from the country's Rakhine State.
In this context, Christians there are the "leaven of God," he said, and called the Church in Burma a "living and fervent" community that he had the joy of meeting and affirming in faith and communion.
Similarly, he said his Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit to Bangladesh was equally important, and focused largely on the need for "respect and dialogue" between Christianity and Islam, as the country is a majority Muslim nation with a small Catholic community.
Religious freedom was a major theme, and was reflected in each of his meetings, he said, and underlined the importance of "openness of the heart as the basis for the culture of encounter, harmony and peace."
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