10 July 2018

The Pope and the patriarchs pray for peace in the Middle East

On Saturday 7 July Pope Francis visited Bari, southern Italy, for an ecumenical prayer meeting for peace in the Middle East.

Actuality and events

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Pope Francis met the Patriarchs of Middle Eastern Christian Churches in Bari, southern Italy, on a day of prayer and reflection on the dramatic situation in the Middle East.


Prefect of the Congregation of Oriental Churches

"Prayer, that is the most important thing: he invites us to pray that this meeting brings fruits of understanding and peace for our poor suffering brothers and sisters. He is also prophetic, because with this gesture he is drawing the attention of the whole world to these brothers; he is calling all the faithful and those who have responsibilities in the world to take decisions in favour of dialogue and peace". 

Among those present was the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Mons Pierbattista Pizzaballa.



Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

"The purpose of this meeting is to take stock of the situation and better coordinate the life of the different Christian communities which belong to different churches. The Middle East has always known the richness of pluriformity in the Christian world, which today needs to show greater unity, especially in light of the challenges facing us.”

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Among the main moments, the prayer before the relics of St Nicholas, much revered by the Eastern churches, followed by a private meeting of dialogue.
"At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father delivered a final speech on the Churchyard of the Basilica of St Nicholas, underlining how both he and the Patriarchs felt the need "to live this day with mind and heart turned to the Middle East, crossroads of civilisations and cradle of the great monotheistic religions".

Mentioning the situation in Syria, the Pope once again condemned the war, asserting that "violence is always fuelled by weapons. You cannot raise your voice to talk about peace while you secretly pursue unbridled arms races. This is an extremely important responsibility, which weighs on the consciences of nations, particularly the most powerful ones.
On the same occasion, the Pope prayed in a special way for the Holy City:

"Today, we pray together to implore the Lord for the peace that the powerful of the earth have not yet found. May the cry of the Psalmist resound, "May peace reign among you", among your suffering brothers and sisters and all the peoples and beliefs, especially for Jerusalem, Holy City loved by God and wounded by men"".

In his speech the Pope firmly advocated and promoted that "Jerusalem is a city ​​for all peoples, unique and sacred for Christians, Jews and Muslims of the whole world; its identity and vocation must be preserved beyond the various disputes and tensions, and its status quo demands to be respected as decided by the international community and repeatedly requested by the Christian communities of the Holy Land."

He added that "Only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians, firmly desired and favored by the Community of Nations, could lead to a stable and lasting peace, and guarantee the coexistence of two States for two peoples."


Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

"The pope has always been very close to the Christians of the Middle East. He has taken many initiatives (...) which have a common thread, a common characteristic: being apart from politics and interceding, praying, expressing closeness, solidarity, charity and prayer".

One of the most symbolic moments was when Pope Francis and the patriarchs freed a white dove, invoking peace out loud!