On the feast of Pentecost, Sunday, 8 June, the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will gather in the Vatican with Pope Francis to pray for peace in the Holy Land.
“In this place where the Prince of Peace was born, I desire to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, and President Shimon Peres, to raise together with me an intense prayer to God for the gift of peace,” the pope said while in Bethlehem in late May.
“And I offer my house in the Vatican to host you in this encounter of prayer.”
The pope has made it clear that this gathering is not a summit or an act of mediation, but an act of prayer.
“Everyone wants peace, many people build it every day with small gestures, many suffer patiently and bear the fatigue of many attempts to build it. And everyone — especially those who are at the service of their people — have a duty to be the instruments and builders of peace, above all in prayer.
“Building peace is hard,” Francis concluded, “but living without peace is a torment. All men and women of this earth and of the whole world are asking us to bring before God their ardent desire for peace.”
Since this is a private act of prayer among the sons of Abraham, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, the form this prayerful gathering will take remains private among the participants. But prayers for the pope and presidents, who will meet in the Vatican in the afternoon, are encouraged.
So, on this sacred feast celebrating the birthday of the church, join Francis in praying for peace in the land of the Prince of Peace.