Israeli President Shimon Peres arrived in Rome to take part in a “call for peace,” with Pope Francis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Peres arrived in Rome Sunday morning for the Vatican visit. During the main event with the three leaders as well as delegations of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith leaders, they will issue a joint call for peace to people across the world.
The peace event scheduled for 7 p.m. in Rome will incorporate all three religions and will include readings dedicated to each of the three religions that call for peace, according to Peres’ office.
The Israeli delegation includes rabbis, Druze leaders and Imams. The Palestinian delegation is expected to include Islamic and Christian leaders. Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim professor Omar Abboud, two friends of the Pope’s from Buenos Aires, also are scheduled to attend.
The event is scheduled to take place in Vatican Gardens, where there are no Christian religious symbols.
On Saturday the Pope tweeted about the upcoming prayer service: “Prayer is all-powerful. Let us use it to bring peace to the Middle East and peace to the world.”
Vatican officials have called the service a “pause in politics” with no political intentions.
The pope made the invitation following the celebration of Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem during his visit last month to the Palestinian West Bank city.
In his invitation, the pope said, “I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer. … 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.”
Later, he added, “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.”
The offer came a month after the collapse of nine months of U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Peres will leave office at the end of July.
This story "Peres Joins Pope, Abbas for Unprecedented Vatican Peace Prayer" was written by JTA.