Today on Perspectives, we look at the deteriorating situation in Gaza and Vatican Radio talks to the Papal Nuncio to the Holy Land to get his assessment of the situation. Catholic News Service also takes a look back at the First World War a century after its inception and examines how the Vatican responded to total war.
Today on Perspectives, brief cease fire brings temporary relief in Gaza, the Holy See Press Office announces two trips for the pope to the city of Caserta and a look ahead at a pair upcoming events.
Today on Perspectives, the Vatican works to clarify an article in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper quoting Pope Francis on a series of on controversial topics. We also look at Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address where he addressed the escalating violence in the Holy Land. Finally we hear about three new bishops named in Hong Kong as well the episcopal ordination of Bishop Kevin Doran in Ireland.
Sunday was an historic day at the Vatican, where His Holiness Pope Francis first began by celebrating Sunday Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost. Preaching inside a packed St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis spent his sermon talking of the Holy Spirit as the Master of Life. He said “The Holy Spirit teaches us the way, the Spirit reminds us of the words of Jesus and explains them to us, He enables us to pray and to call God ‘Father’, He enables us to speak to our fellows in fraternal dialogue and enables us to speak in prophecy.”
After the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope went to the Apostolic Palace where from a window high above St. Peter’s Square he delivered his Regina Coeli address. He continued on the themes explored in his sermon from mass, saying “The event of Pentecost marks the birth of the Church and the Church’s public manifestation: two things strike us [about the Church]: the Church is one that surprises us and stirs things up.” Pope Francis also expressed his gratitude to all those praying for his meeting later that day with President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and President Shimon Peres of Israel. “I wish to thank all those who, personally and in community, have prayed and are praying for this meeting, and who will be united spiritually to our supplication.”
Then that evening, the pope’s guests began to arrive at the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae for the ‘Invocation for Peace.’ His invitation to the two Middle-Eastern leaders to come and pray at the Vatican became one of the defining moments of his recent trip to the Holy Land. The first to arrive was Israeli President Shimon Peres who was greeted by Pope Francis. He was soon followed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whom the Holy Father also took time to meet and greet at the entrance to his home. After privately meeting with both leaders, the three men came together with both presidents embracing.
The men were then joined by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Constantinople, the first among equals in the Eastern Orthodox Church. They then proceeded outside where they took a van ride together travelling from the Pope’s residence at Domus Sanctae Marthae across the territory of the tiny Vatican City State. The men then arrived in the Vatican gardens where the invocation for peace was held, waling together side-by-side.
As they took their places, they were joined in the garden by representatives of the three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jewish community first offered prayers in Hebrew, including a number of different psalms read and sung aloud.
Next, the Christian community offered prayers read by religious and laity, including His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as well as by Patriarch Bartholomew.
Finally, prayers then came from the Muslim Community and were delivered in Arabic, and included a short musical meditation.
The prayers were then followed by an address from Pope Francis to the gathering. He noted the countless people from around the globe who joined them in prayer on this day, to pray that adversaries would become brothers and sisters. The pope said “Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.” He said history too often saw the use of force try and resolve problems. He rather called for those gathered to find the courage to ask God to help them find peace.
President Peres then addressed the gathering, saying both Israelis and Palestinians ache for peace. He said that “without peace, we are not complete, and we have yet to achieve the mission of humanity.”
President Abbas then spoke, calling their meeting the Pope’s efforts a truthful attempt at achieving peace. He said that they want peace and prosperity for their own and for their neighbors.
After the gathering, the men travelled together throughout the gardens before bidding farewell and going their separate ways.
This week we’re unpacking the souvenirs from Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land, including the pending prayer meeting with Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres. We speak to Fr. Thomas Rosica about the symbolism of the papal itinerary and the significance of his gestures during the visit.
Late Breaking Update: Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas will meet at the Vatican on June 8 for their Prayer meeting.
Pope Francis is not the only pontiff to leave his hosts, and the world, with long lasting souvenirs of his visit.
The soon to be beatified Pope Paul VI could be the first pope who left his mark while traveling. His 1964 pilgrimage to the Holy Land was the first time a pope traveled outside Italy. It changed the idea of a pope being a monarch of monarchs to whom others made pilgrimage, into a traveling pastor who left home to tend to his flock.
During that 1964 voyage, Paul VI met with Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. It the first time in 1000 years that a pope and patriarch formally met. It also launched a dialogue process that continues to this day.
JPII in Poland
In 1979 Pope John Paul II visited his homeland for the first time since being elected pope. He gave an electrifying homily during Mass at Warsaw’s Victory Square. He closed his homily calling on the Holy Spirit to descend and renew the face of the earth, “this earth.” Although it was more than ten years before the country would be free of its Soviet-backed regime, that homily is seen as the catalyst, encouraging Poles to slowly, quietly, build a new nation.
John Paul II had a more direct and immediate impact when he visted Cuba in 1998. He asked Fidel Castro to make Christmas Day a public holiday. Days later, Castro announced Christmas Day would indeed be a holiday for Cubans. Benedict XVI followed in his predecessors footsteps in 2012, asking Raoul Castro to make Good Friday a public holiday. His request was also granted. To this day Good Friday and Christmas Day are national holidays in Cuba.
Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land.
Today on Perspectives, Cardinal Lacroix receives appointments, a Canadian bishop dies, safeguards put in place for Pope’s visit to Holy Land and a look at Salt + Light’s broadcast schedule for the Apostolic Journey.
Today on Perspectives, students of the Pontifical Universities and Colleges meet the Pope and concern ahead of the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land.
Today on Perspectives, President Barack Obama visits the Vatican, daily mass with Pope Francis and the Pope’s itinerary in the Holy Land is released.
We then said a very poignant ‘good-bye’ to some of our companions on the journey as they journeyed on to other engagements.
The wheels on the bus rolled again and we were off to the German Colony to meet with Ambassador Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ambassador Gold welcomed us hospitably (we are getting VERY used to the wonderful Israeli coffee) and spoke to us about Israel’s security needs. We had questions, he had answers from the perspective of his narrative of the land.
With those bus wheel rolling, our next stop was the city of Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Again, a very hospital welcome in their very mundane-looking office building. That representative, no surprise, had a different narrative of the people in the land from Ambassador Gold. Again, we had questions, he had answers from the perspective of his narrative of the land.
It could not have been more appropriate, in fact it was an intentional decision on the part of the tour leaders, to end our Path of Abraham study tour in the village of Neve Shalom/Wahat a-Salaam. Physically, it is a small village on a not too big hill. Idealogically, idealistically it is a ‘game-changer’ in dialogue. Arabs and Jews live together, side by side, with their own houses, with their own faiths but in the same physical space, having to share and compromise and work out governance issues for themselves.
We were blessed by their story, the world is blessed by their witness.
It was then to the buses as we scattered to the airport, to Jordan or back to Jerusalem.
The Path of Abraham study tour is over. Perhaps.
On the other hand, if we can truly live forward the recognition of complexity that we have gained, if we can live in deep peace with ALL our neighbours, the journey has just begun…..
Photo courtesy of Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton