Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Pope Francis in the Middle East

The Pope's first official visit in the region is something I cannot forget to mention. During the last few days, this topic was present in the news all around the world. Not surprisingly at all: Pope Francis is a significant religous and poltical leader, enjoying great popularity thanks to his open-minded, humble and joyful attitude. His recent speeches and meetings in the Middle East seem to prove that he does deserve this opinion.
Refering to the main values that Christianity stands for, he put a greatest emphasis on the issue of peace. His visit itself served as a great opportunity to unite people. The Catholic communities from Israel got a permission to attend the pope's speech in PA, entering which is usually impossible for them. The division, marked clearly by the infamous wall, was somewhat diminished by the common prayer of Arabs and Jews.
What also impressed me was the clarity and skillfullness of the Pope's diplomatic approach. As a person from the outside of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he clearly wanted to avoid being associated with one of its sides. He didn't come there as another actor with certain ecnomic or political interests. The aim of his visit was to remind people how essential is it to bring peace to the Holy Land. With respect and empathy, he acknowledged the national tragedies and problems of each of the two countries. He firmly stated that each of them has a right to exist in peace and sovereignity and condemned all the unacceptable actions that slow down the negotiation process.What's more, he invited both the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmud Abbas and the president of Israel Simon Peretz to join him in the common prayer for peace in the Vatican. This may be an occasion for the two to meet on a "no-man's-land", in a less tense political atmposphere. 
Of course, I would be far from saying that this is a ground-breaking step that will be able bring these two countries to a completely different path. Many things stay the same: you still get the violence and 'price-tag ' attacks, the far-right and the terrorists don't care, both sides keep breaking the agreements. But I greatly hope the Pope's invitation might be this tiny little gesture that will contribute to altering their policies a bit. And that is something bigger than you may think.

*I really recommend you to read the transcript of his speech:

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