Presidents confirm 'encounter of prayer' with Pope

The Presidents of Israel and Palestine will travel to the Vatican this Sunday, 8 June to pray for peace with Pope Francis. Leaders Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas accepted the Pope's invitation to pray together at 'his home' after he issued it during his Apostolic Journey to the Holy Land last month.

It was after celebrating Mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem and reciting the Regina Coeli that Pope Francis addressed the two leaders: “In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace. I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer." The Holy Father continued: "All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. All of us – especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples – have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers.

"Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.”