Pope Francis met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday, days after the Vatican said it was preparing to sign its first accord with the Palestinians in the near future.
The pope called Abbas “an angel of peace” during a 20-minute private audience at the Vatican.
The parties expressed satisfaction for “the accord reached on the text of a comprehensive Agreement” between the Vatican and the State of Palestine, “on various, essential aspects of the life and the activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine,” the Holy See said in a statement.
The pope and Palestinian president also discussed the peace process with Israel and the possible resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict.
News of the accord angered Israel, prompting a statement saying “such a development does not further the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct bilateral negotiations.”
The pontiff and Abbas then turned their attention to the Middle East conflicts and reaffirmed “the importance of combating terrorism” and “the need for interreligious dialogue.”
President Abbas is in Rome for the canonization Sunday of two 19th-century figures — Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas — the first saints from the region since the early days of Christianity.