Pope Francis meets Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas
Last week Pope Frances met with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, at the Vatican. The cordial discussion evoked the existing good relations between the Holy See and Palestine, “sealed by the Global Agreement of 2015, which regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestinian society.”
“In this context,” a statement issued by the Holy See said “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.”
Referring to the peace process in the Middle East, hope was expressed that direct negotiations 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,” the statement noted, “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.” Other conflicts affecting the region were also discussed.
The Holy See and the State of Palestine had previously signed a Comprehensive Agreement on June 26, 2015 that “regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.” The Agreement came into full force on 2 Jan 2016.
The meeting between the Pope and the president also stressed the importance of safeguarding the sanctity of the Holy Places for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions.
After meeting with the Pope, the President of the State of Palestine met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
This is not the first meeting between Pope Francis and the Palestinian president. On May 17, 2015 the president attended the canonisation of Palestine’s first saints in the Vatican – two nuns born in the Holy Land, Saints Mother Marie Alphonsine and Mariam Baouardy.