A NEW ROAD TO PEACE
FR. PAWEŁ RYTEL-ANDRIANIK
I trust that this meeting will be the beginning of a new road in search of what joins us in order to overcome what divides us – said pope Francis to presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy, whom he had invited to his home to pray for peace in the Near East.
On the Sunday of Pentecost – 8 June 2014 it was the first time in history when the believers of Judaism, Christians and Muslims had met to pray for peace according to their religious traditions. This unprecedented meeting took place in the Vatican Gardens. Presidents of Israel and Palestinian Autonomy – Szymon Peres and Mahmud Abbas arrived with their delegations to the invitation of pope Francis. The meeting was also attended by the patriarch Bartlomiej, a spiritual superior of the Orthodox religion. Prayer and reading each monotheistic religion, based, among the others, on the Holy Scripture and Koran were concentrated on the three topics: creation, request for forgiveness and calling for peace. The host and guests spoke at the end of the meeting. Both presidents were clearly moved when pope Francis said: - We have tried to solve conflicts with our strength many times and for many years, as well as when using weapon. How many events of hostility and darkness, so much blood, many broken existences, so much buried hope….Our efforts were in vain. Now, Lord, help us! Give us peace, teach us peace, lead us to peace. In his speech Szymon Peres referred to his personal experiences, saying: - I have experienced time of war and peace. I will do everything to strive for peace. Whereas Mahmud Abbas reminded the words of John Paul II: ‘If peace is in Jerusalem, it will be experienced all over the world’. The prayer summit in Vatican was very popular all over the world. The biggest informative services reported it and the Israeli journal ‘Haaretz’ and the Palestinian television Al Jazeer noted the words of the Pope to both presidents that ‘they must respond to’ nostalgia of their people for peace in Near East and ‘find strength to the dialogue not discouraged by anything’. – We should deceive ourselves that peace will be tomorrow – said Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, a Custodian of the Holy Land – but this meeting begins a new phase in the peace process in Near East and gives it a new quality. It does not concern solving political problems but the change of mentality and mutual inter-human relations and seeing a brother in another man. Pope Francis believes it, who wrote on Twitter: ‘Prayer can do everything. Let’s use it so that there would be peace in Near East and all over the world’.