Pope Leads Middle East Leaders In Prayers For Peace

The presidents of Israel and the Palestinian government joined Pope Francis for prayer at the Vatican Sunday.
Posted at 9:42 PM, Jun 08, 2014

Palestinian and Israeli leaders joined Pope Francis in prayers for peace Sunday at the Vatican. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres accepted the pope's invitation to join him in prayers for the Middle East. (Via BBC)

And while he stressed he didn't intend to mediate the two sides, the pope gave a strongly-worded speech saying peacemaking calls for more courage than warfare. (Via The Vatican)

"This was a first at the Vatican. First, not because it was an interreligious prayer's the first time two politicians have been protagonists at a prayer service along with the Pope." (Via CNN)

The ceremony at the Vatican incorporated Jewish, Muslim and Christian prayers, with Francis seated between the two sides.

A BBC analyst says this is the pope's way of improving peace prospects. "He hopes that the prayers in the calm of the Vatican gardens might just improve the atmosphere between the two sides. ... For Pope Francis, the power of prayer has the capacity to change everything."

PBS points out this meeting takes place just weeks after U.S.-sponsored peace talks collapsed between the two countries.

The prayers given at the ceremony focused on thankfulness, forgiveness and desire for peace.