Pope Francis invited Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors to pray for peace

On Friday, Pope Francis convened the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors in the Vatican Gardens to pray for an end to the Gaza war, honoring the tenth anniversary of a similar meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents with a new call for peace.

“Every day, I pray that this war will finally come to an end,” Francis told the modest gathering of about two dozen cardinals and the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.

Among them were Israeli Ambassador Raphael Schutz, Palestinian Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, and members from Italy’s Jewish and Muslim communities.

The occasion mirrored Francis’ first visit in the gardens, which took place ten years ago, when he welcomed Israel’s then-President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

At the time, a round of peace talks mediated by the United States had stagnated. However, Francis told the two presidents that he hoped their summit would signal “a new journey” toward peace. Francis said then and now that too many children had been slain by violence, and he pleaded with all sides to agree to a cease-fire in Gaza and the prompt repatriation of hostages to Israel.

All of this pain, the cruelty of war, the violence it unleashes, and the hatred it instills in future generations should convince us all that every conflict makes our world worse than it was before,” he remarked.

Francis has attempted to strike a balance on Gaza after first infuriating Israel with comments considered to be pro-Palestinian. When discussing the battle, he has made a point of mentioning Israel’s suffering and calling for the release of hostages kidnapped on October 7.

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