Pope Francis has pledged that with regard to the Middle East he “will not fail to continue to invoke God for the cause of peace, of a true and real peace.”
His commitment came in a letter released by the Vatican on January 18, 2018. The Holy Father sent the letter to Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyib, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on the occasion of the International Conference in Support of Jerusalem, underway at Al-Azahr, in Egypt, from January 17 to January 18, 2018.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Letter that the Holy Father Francis
To Distinguished Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyib
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar
I received your letter of last December 16, regarding the Al-Azhar International Conference in Support of Jerusalem, which will take place on January 17. I thank you for your courteous invitation, and well as the kind expressions of esteem that you wished to express to me, and which I cordially return. As you revealed, on that day I will be committed in an Apostolic Journey, but from now on I assure you that I will not fail to continue to invoke God for the cause of peace, of a true and real peace. In particular, I raise heartfelt prayers so that leaders of Nations, and civil and religious Authorities everywhere, will commit themselves to avert new spirals of tension and to support every effort to have concord, justice and security prevail for the populations of that blessed Land, which I have so much at heart.
For its part, the Holy See will not cease to recall with urgency the necessity of the resumption of the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians for a negotiated solution, geared to the peaceful coexistence of two States, within the borders agreed between them and internationally recognized, in full respect of the peculiar nature of Jerusalem, whose significance goes beyond any consideration of territorial questions. Only a special statute, also internationally guaranteed, will be able to preserve its identity, its unique vocation as a place of peace, to which the Sacred Places call, and its universal value, making possible a future of reconciliation and of hope for the entire region.
This is the sole aspiration of one who professes himself genuinely a believer and does not tire of imploring with prayer a future of fraternity for all. With these sentiments, I am pleased to renew to you my cordial greeting, invoking from the Most High every blessing for your person and for the high responsibility you cover.
From the Vatican, January 10, 2018
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]