While in the Holy Land, Pope Francis made a few unscheduled stops. He stopped to pray at the Western Wall in the West Bank, and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he visited an Israeli memorial for victims of terrorism. He also prayed on the banks of the Jordan River and at a Palestinian security checkpoint.
“Though Francis met with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, his trip wasn’t about the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was about Christians.” When speaking to Muslims, Francis urged “fraternal dialogue” between Christianity and Islam, and expressed mild disapproval of the lack of respect for Christians among Muslims. “May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters!” he said. “May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence!”
To two chief rabbis, he spoke of the shared theological heritage of Jews and Christians, and urged that Jews learn to understand Christianity. “He emphasized… the importance of working together to create peace and ‘oppose every form of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination.’”
Though he chastised both Israelis and Palestinians over the ongoing conflict, he was apparently interested in promoting Christianity, not about politics. The Vatican said that the main reason for the trip was for Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew, the archbishop of Constantinople and primary leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians to meet. Yet, the politics and the three religious cultures cannot be separated. So, in pursuing ecumenical goals, he is also pursuing political goals, something at which the Vatican is an expert and something for which it has a lot of experience.
His concern for Christian persecution in the Middle East necessarily overlaps with regional politics. Emphasizing the need for peace positions the Pope and the Vatican to broker a lasting political peace. This is propaganda. In promoting Christianity, the pope is also promoting Papal intervention and power.
“And by peace, he shall destroy many…” Daniel 8:25