Pope to unite Israeli and Palestinian leaders

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Francis and Netanyahu
Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pay their respects at the national Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Pope Francis continues living up to his humble and inspiring reputation. The leader of the Catholic Church recently visited the Middle East in a trip that paid equal respects to both Israel and Palestine, two regions plagued by conflict for decades. After sewing goodwill among the Jews, Muslims, and Christians, he extended a historic invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders for a prayer summit at his Vatican apartment.

Despite the best efforts of politicians to create meaningful and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, it just might be the Pope who can finally bridge the two nations. One of his most dramatic and photo-worthy moments during the Middle East trip came when he stopped at Israel’s controversial concrete barrier separating Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem from Jerusalem – a precaution the Israelis say is needed to defend against Palestinian terror attacks. He prayed and leaned his head against the graffiti-filled wall, symbolically showing that the division between Israel and Palestine must be healed.

“There is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of rights for every individual, and on mutual security,” explained Pope Francis. He said the worsening conflict between both sides is becoming “increasingly unacceptable” and called for “those in positions of responsibility to leave no stone unturned in the search for… solutions to complex problems.”

Images courtesy of The Vatican.