News / Middle East

Pope Invites Muslim, Jewish Leaders to Vatican

Pope Francis Meets Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox Leadersi
Scott Bobb
May 26, 2014 4:24 PM
Pope Francis is completing his trip to the Middle East with a series of meetings with religious and political leaders in Israel. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Pope Francis Meets Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox Leaders
Scott Bobb
Pope Francis met with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres Monday as he wrapped up his three-day trip to the Middle East.

Netanyahu told the pope why he believes Israel needed to build a separation barrier around the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The Israeli prime minister said that when incitement and terror against Israel ends, there will not be a need for the wall, where Pope Francis stopped and prayed on Sunday.

Peres thanked the pope for making efforts to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Pope Francis invited Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the Vatican in June to pray for peace and both men accepted his invitation.

Papal prayers

Also Monday, the pope prayed and laid a wreath at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem museum, which commemorates the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.
He also placed a wreath on the grave of the father of modern Israel, Theodor Herzl. He also met with the two chief rabbis of Jerusalem.
Pope Francis meets with the Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, left, and Abdul Azeem Salhab, Head of the Waqef supreme court, near the Dome of the Rock Mosque, MayPope Francis meets with the Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, left, and Abdul Azeem Salhab, Head of the Waqef supreme court, near the Dome of the Rock Mosque, May
Pope Francis meets with the Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, left, and Abdul Azeem Salhab, Head of the Waqef supreme court, near the Dome of the Rock Mosque, May
Pope Francis meets with the Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, left, and Abdul Azeem Salhab, Head of the Waqef supreme court, near the Dome of the Rock Mosque, May
Earlier, the pope met with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein at the Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Dome of the Rock. Speaking at the shrine, he said a visit to the Holy Land would not be complete without a meeting with the Muslim communities.
Speaking in Latin, the pope made a heartfelt plea to all people and communities who look to Abraham, calling on all to respect and love one another as brothers and sisters. He also called for those present to learn to understand the sufferings of others.
The pontiff also prayed at the Wailing Wall.
The Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, said for too many years, religion was a source of division. He said that from the wall, which is sacred to the pope, the rabbi, and to millions more around the globe, he called on people of all religions to fight hatred and anti-Semitism.

Holy site

On Sunday evening, Pope Francis met with Orthodox ecumenical leader, Patriarch Bartholomew, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where many believe Jesus Christ was crucified and buried
Standing as pilgrims in these holy places, we remember in our prayers the entire Middle East, so frequently and lamentably marked by acts of violence and conflict, said Francis. He said we do not forget the many people in the world who are suffering from war, poverty, hunger and persecution.
Patriarch Bartholomew lamented what he called racial discrimination and religious extremism in contemporary society.
"Religious fanaticism already threatens peace in many regions of the globe, where the very gift of life is sacrificed on the altar of religious hatred. In the face of such conditions, the message of the life-giving tomb is urgent and clear: Love the other, the different other, the followers of other faiths and other confessions," said Bartholomew.
The two leaders then embraced. The meeting marked a similar encounter between their predecessors 50 years ago that launched reconciliation efforts after centuries of conflict between the two churches.
The pope on Sunday said mass and met refugees in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. He stopped his convoy to pray at the separation barrier that surrounds most of the city.
On Saturday he said mass in Amman, Jordan and met Syrian refugees near the site on the Jordan River where many believe Jesus was baptized.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: John Stefanyszyn from: Canada
June 07, 2014 11:34 AM
...but to which ‘god’ will Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”), President Peres, and President Abbas be praying to for peace at the Vatican since neither prays to the “same god”?
Abbas……..Sunni Islam

In addition to this,
: the Catholic religion has redefined Christ to be a representative of political religion, of religious liberty & compromise, under the way of the Roman empire.
:the Judaic religion rejects Jesus Christ as the Son of God...referring to Him as a blasphemer and false prophet.
:the religion of Islam also denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God & that He was only a prophet that was not resurrected and not the One Way of Forgiveness /Salvation, claiming instead that Muhammad was the last true messenger (via self righteousness).

So to which ‘god’ will they be praying for “peace”?
:::::But there is one common “call it religion” that all three worship, believe in, glorify, and live by.
….they will be praying to the ‘god’ of FREEDOM...freedom of self-rights, freedom of self-religions.
….Bergoglio….freedom of rights and religions for the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the “non believers”, and the “others”.
….Peres…...freedom and rights for Israel ( and they believe that it is right for them to repossess all of the land for Israel)
….Abbas...freedom and rights for the state and land of Palestine...the land that they believe is rightly theirs.
= each believes his way to be right in their own eyes = I will serve and do good for myself first (XES), my neighbor second = way of conflict (and not peace) as Cain killed his brother Abel.

And this ‘god of fortresses’ dictates that it is RIGHT (a right) to be free to worship ANY ‘god’.

But there is Only One Creator, whose identity is clearly defined by His Son Jesus Christ….and He said that we are to worship the One and Only Creator and Him Alone, His Will Alone to serve in obedience and love….love for Him and love for the neighbor….and not “my rights”.

Note...soon the Lord Jesus Christ will return to rule the earth in power according to and in obedience to the Will of the One and Only Creator and NOT according to man’s first love for “his freedom”.....and man will weep and clench his teeth in anger when “his self-freedom” will be no more.

John Stefanyszyn

by: Magnus Botchway from: Nsawam
May 27, 2014 10:56 AM
just yesterday my driver I work with him said he read the koran and the bible, now pope has invite middle east leaders for peace on june coming,if pope could invite them and is good for moslem to read the bible why can't both religion accept?this I want to know

by: Jude Ikezu from: Lagos, Nigeria
May 26, 2014 8:56 PM
Peace is needed all over the world especially in all war torn nations. Thank God for the wonderful move by Pope Francis I to reconcile the Faiths. I believe with sincere co-operation of all and sundry, the entire world will experience peace in near future. Thank God for your courage and wisdom dear, His Holiness, Pope Francis I.

by: amir from: new jersey
May 26, 2014 2:58 PM
There is no current chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. He met the chief Rabbis of Israel.

by: Nisar Siddiqui
May 26, 2014 11:54 AM
V good effort by pop may Allah bring us all together as v all believe that Abraham Alaisalam was too true prophet and great grand father of all our Prophet and the last Prophet Mohammad may peace be upon Him was His Great Great Son.

by: salome wambui from: kenya
May 26, 2014 8:53 AM
We are one in the Spirit and in the Lord.Thank you Pope Francis for bringing different Religious Communities together.Your presence meant a lot and has increased the faith of some unbelievers.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 26, 2014 8:14 AM
iI want to react to Pope's earlier statement at Bethlehem where he said, “The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in a protracted conflict that has inflicted many wounds.” Yes Pope, we agree. But first and foremost to agree that the land – Bethlehem – in the land of Judea where he stood and made the statement has been known to belong to Israel from ancient times, even in the bible. Today it is occupied by Palestinians. That Israel has not gone forcefully to take it over shows the magnanimity the Pope is preaching has been in the works over time by Israel. And there are so many such places right now occupied by what was known then as Gentiles.

But aside from this show of charity by Israel, the Pope should not lose sight of the fact of those holy sites to Christianity and perhaps other religions too. What is happening in Iraq, Libya and Mali should be good eye openers to the fact that islam may one day rise to either take over these onerous Christian holy sites or declare them null and void to both destroy and bare Christians and other religions pilgrimages to them. Right as we speak, the Pope may have forgotten the Holy Temple of Jerusalem that the muslims have taken over as their holy site, and with the birth of the Arab Spring which has done nothing but elevate terrorism to state heights, there is no indication the muslims will respect the right of the Christians and others to these holy sites, especially for Christian worship or to share same with the Christians in case they find any reason to have dual respect for such holy sites in islam.

Yes Pope, we agree to share neighborhood with them, even to absorb them in the Jewish state of Israel, but when they ask to be in charge seems they are asking for too much. On a second thought, since these formerly unknown people who occupied the land that was called the land of Israel, the land of the Jews, who should be integrated into the country of Israel but have refused, yet magnanimously accommodated by the new state of Israel, can be granted greater autonomy they are looking for based on what the original owners of the land have to offer. The Pope should summon the Arab and Islamic leaders to his office to discuss this point so that the much desired peace may return to the Middle East - IF HE MEANS ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

by: jean brown from: saint mary of the woods
May 26, 2014 7:12 AM
God of heaven and earth.....heal this broken world.....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs