Pope Francis Meets President Mahmoud Abbas

Visit Falls After Canonization of Palestine’s First Canonized Saints, Comprehensive Agreement Between Holy See and State of Palestine

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President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, met Pope Francis on Saturday.
According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, the discussions were cordial and the parties evoked the existing good relations between the Holy See and Palestine, «sealed by the Global Agreement of 2015, which regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestinian society.»
«In this context,» the statement noted, «mention was made of the important contribution of Catholics to favoring the promotion of human dignity and assistance for those most in need, especially in the fields of education, health and aid.»
Attention then turned to the peace process in the Middle East, and hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the Parties may be resumed to bring an end to the violence that causes unacceptable suffering to civilian populations, and to find a just and lasting solution.
«To this end,» the statement noted, «it is hoped that, with the support of the international community, measures can be taken that favor mutual trust and contribute to creating a climate that permits courageous decisions to be made in favor of peace.»
Emphasis was placed on the importance of safeguarding the sanctity of the Holy Places for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions. Finally, particular attention was dedicated to the other conflicts affecting the region.
After meeting with the Pope, the President of the State of Palestine met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
This is not the first meeting between Francis and the Palestinian president.
This meeting takes place in the wake of the canonization of two nuns born in the Holy Land, Saints Mother Marie Alphonsine and Mariam Baouardy, an event that the Palestinian president attended in the Vatican on May 17, 2015. They were Palestine’s first canonized saints.
On Jan. 2, 2016, the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine came into full force. Signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine on June 26, 2015, the agreement «regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.»

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