My friend Michael La Civita, who is the communications director for Catholic Near East Welfare Association and who oversees the publication of its award-winning magazine, ONE, has written an essay over at Our Sunday Visitor about the dire condition of the Middle East. He notes that the presence of Christians is a necessary ingredient to long-term peace in that region of the world. It's worth the read.
Catholic leaders in the Holy Land called for an end to the cycle of violence and criticized Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and its collective punishment of Palestinians.
"Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and on its legitimate desire to be free is a tragic exploitation of tragedy and promotes more violence and hatred," said a statement Tuesday from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople may join Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres when they meet Pope Francis to pray for peace this weekend.
The Vatican's chief spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said Tuesday that the pope had invited the head of the Orthodox faith to join the Middle East leaders at a Vatican prayer summit to be held this Sunday.
“It's true that the pope invited him and wants him to come,'' Lombardi said. “I think he will come but so far we do not have an official confirmation.''
Several key political experts are invited to the Vatican for a one-day meeting Jan. 13 aimed at promoting a cease-fire in Syria, ahead of peace talks slated for Jan. 22.