The impetus behind Pope Francis inviting the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to meet at the Vatican to pray for peace was Francis’ belief in the power of prayer to transform even the most difficult situations, the Vatican Secretary of State has said.
“Prayer is able to transform hearts and, therefore, transform history,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in an interview with Italian publication Il Giornale Monday.
The Pope invited Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, the respective Presidents of Israel and Palestine, to the Vatican at the end of the Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem.
Parolin recalled the Pope’s previous prayer initiative for Syria last September, adding that the strength of prayer has a “political force” that we cannot yet know.
When asked when the meeting will occur, Cardinal Parolin said the date has not been set, but should be soon, given both presidents have already accepted. President Abbas’ office has suggested June 6.
Answering what the Vatican’s position was on the state of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, he acknowledged that although Christians tend to face worldly opposition, such initiatives for peace offer new hope.
“We need to do everything possible for Christians who suffer, also from a political and diplomatic point of view,” the cardinal said, because Christians’ “freedom of conscience is to be respected.” (D.C.L.)