Recently, Pope Francis, Shimon Perez and Mahmoud Abbas met at the Vatican to pray for peace and discuss peace in the Middle East. Here is the background of that meeting.
Pope Francis may be the world’s best politician. During his recent trip to the Middle East, he surprised everyone by publically inviting Shimon Perez, the President of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, to meet with him for prayer and dialogue at the Vatican during an open-air mass in Bethlehem. Within an hour both men had agreed to the meeting.
The significance of this is that the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, failed to bring the two sides together to begin peace negotiations. The process of negotiations has been stalled for about four years. While the papal “surprise” could help the United States revive the peace talks, it points out that the Vatican can often do things in the name of religion that politicians cannot do in the name of politics.
And this is not the first time this has happened. Back in September of 2013, the Catholic Church wielded its “spiritual” muscle to prevent a possible American intervention in Syria. “When an invasion seemed imminent, Francis called on the Church to have a global day of prayer and fasting. During a vigil held in St. Peter’s Square, Francis asked: ‘[i]s it possible to change direction? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace?’”
While critics argued that fasting and prayer would do little to change the situation in Syria, the international community negotiated a disarmament plan for Syria’s chemical weapons and the U.S. was able to avoid another military campaign.
The three-way meeting in Rome was not merely symbolic. The church plays a huge role in geopolitical matters. “Time and again when political actors fail to make progress on society’s most contentious issues, religion has made all the difference.”
“And the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her…” Revelation 18:3