Sunday, May 25, 2014





EUROPEAN UNION-KING OF WEST-DAN 9:26-27,DAN 7:23-24,DAN 11:40,REV 13:1-10


JOEL 3:2
2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people(ISRAEL) and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.(UPROOTED ISRAELIS AND DIVIDED JERUSALEM)(THIS BRINGS ON WW3 BECAUSE JERUSALEM IS DIVIDED,WARNING TO ARABS-MUSLIMS AND THE WORLD).


Heres the scripture 1 week = 7 yrs Genesis 29:27-29
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week:(7 YEARS) and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

DANIEL 11:21-23
21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.

DANIEL 9:26-27
26 And after threescore and two weeks(62X7=434 YEARS+7X7=49 YEARS=TOTAL OF 69 WEEKS OR 483 YRS) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;(ROMAN LEADERS DESTROYED THE 2ND TEMPLE) and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.(THERE HAS TO BE 70 WEEKS OR 490 YRS TO FUFILL THE VISION AND PROPHECY OF DAN 9:24).(THE NEXT VERSE IS THAT 7 YR WEEK OR (70TH FINAL WEEK).
27 And he ( THE ROMAN,EU PRESIDENT) shall confirm the covenant (PEACE TREATY) with many for one week:(1X7=7 YEARS) and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,(3 1/2 yrs in TEMPLE ANIMAL SACRIFICES STOPPED) and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

8  The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant,(7 YR TREATY) he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.(THE WORLD LEADER-WAR MONGER CALLS HIMSELF GOD)


GENESIS 25:20-26
20  And Isaac was forty years old (A BIBLE GENERATION NUMBER=1967 + 40=2007+) when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.
21  And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
22  And the children (2 NATIONS IN HER-ISRAEL-ARABS) struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.
23  And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels;(ISRAEL AND THE ARABS) and the one people shall be stronger than the other people;(ISRAEL STRONGER THAN ARABS) and the elder shall serve the younger.(LITERALLY ISRAEL THE YOUNGER RULES (ISSAC)(JACOB-LATER NAME CHANGED TO ISRAEL) OVER THE OLDER ARABS (ISHMAEL)(ESAU)
24  And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
25  And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.(THE OLDER AN ARAB)

14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.
15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.


11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth;(FALSE VATICAN POPE) and he had two horns like a lamb,(JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD) and he spake as a dragon.(HES SATANICALLY INSPIRED,HES A CHRISTIAN DEFECTOR FROM THE FAITH)
12 And he (FALSE RELIGIOUS LEADER) exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him,(WORLD DICTATOR) and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.(THE WORLD DICTATOR CREATES A FALSE RESURRECTION AND IS CROWNED LEADER OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER).
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

REVELATION 17:1-5,9,15-18
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication,(VATICAN IN POLITICS) and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman (FALSE CHURCH) was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour,(VATICAN COLOURS)(ANOTHER REASON WE KNOW THE FALSE POPE COMES FROM THE VATICAN) and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.(THE VATICAN IS BUILT ON 7 HILLS OR MOUNTAINS)
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.(VATICAN-CATHOLICS ALL AROUND THE WORLD OVER 1 BILLION)
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast,(WORLD DICTATOR) these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.(BOMB OR NUKE THE VATICAN)
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city,(VATICAN) which reigneth over the kings of the earth.


05/25/2014 - THE VATICAN INSIDER-Pope invites Palestinian and Israeli Presidents to the Vatican to pray for peace-Pope Francis-Pope Francis in Bethlehem, stuns the world, by inviting Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli President, Shimon Peres, to join him, in his home in the Vatican, to pray together for peace-Gerard O’Connell

Bethlehem-Pope Francis took the world by surprise at midday on Sunday, May 25, when at the end of mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem, he invited the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli President, Shimon Peres, to join him, at his home in the Vatican, to pray together for peace.Earlier that morning, he stopped and prayed at the Wall, which Israel insists it built for self-protection, but which has separated Israelis from Palestinians, divided communities, and caused enormous resentment and hate among the Palestinians.  He prayed at the wall for about 5 minutes and the put his forehead against the wall. The action was more eloquent that a thousand speeches.Earlier that Sunday morning he had a meeting with the Palestinian leadership at Bethlehem, before celebrating mass for 10,000 delighted Christians in Manger Square, Bethlehem, he made a passionate plea for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel. He also expressed his hope to return again to visit Galilee.He arrived in Palestine from Jordan by helicopter, early May 25. His two friends from Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and the Muslim Omar Abboud accompanied him here. After meeting the Palestinian leadership, in Bethlehem, 15 minutes’ drive from Jerusalem, he drove by car to Manger Square where 10,000 Christians from the West Bank, Gaza and Galilee, together with migrant workers from Asia and Africa, and pilgrims from Shanghai gave him a rapturous welcome, waving flags, scarves, banners, and singing. The Palestinian President was also present.In his homily, at the Mass of the Nativity concelebrated with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, and the bishops of the Holy Land, he thanked God “for this great grace”, and then focused on the Christ child and the world’s children.“The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the sign given by God to those who awaited salvation, and he remains forever the sign of God’s tenderness and presence in our world”, the Pope declared.Today too, he said,  “children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world.”“Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human”, he told the crowd that included very many children.The Child of Bethlehem was frail, he said, “like all newborn children. He cannot speak and yet he is the Word made flesh who came to transform the hearts and lives of all men and women. This Child, like every other child, is vulnerable; he needs to be accepted and protected.”Today too, the Pope said, “children need to be welcomed and defended, from the moment of their conception.” Sadly, he noted, “in this world of ours, with all its highly developed technology, great numbers of children continue to live in inhuman situations, on the fringes of society, in the peripheries of great cities and in the countryside. All too many children continue to be exploited, maltreated, enslaved, prey to violence and illicit trafficking. Still too many children live in exile, as refugees, at times lost at sea, particularly in the waters of the Mediterranean.”In the face of such a situation, he said, “we feel shame before God, before God who became a child.”

Pope Francis is a master at linking the Gospel of Jesus to the modern world, and he did so again in Manger Square when he told those present and the hundreds of millions worldwide that were following thanks to the presence of some 1,000 TV, Radio and print journalists, “We have to ask ourselves: Who are we, as we stand before the Child Jesus? Who are we, standing as we stand before today’s children?”He put some pointed questions: “Are we like Mary and Joseph, who welcomed Jesus and care for him with the love of a father and a mother? Or are we like Herod, who wanted to eliminate him? Are we like the shepherds, who went in haste to kneel before him in worship and offer him their humble gifts? Or are we indifferent? Are we perhaps people who use fine and pious words, yet exploit pictures of poor children in order to make money? Are we ready to be there for children, to “waste time” with them? Are we ready to listen to them, to care for them, to pray for them and with them? Or do we ignore them because we are too caught up in our own affairs?”Today, he said, “children are crying, they are crying a lot, and their crying challenges us. In a world which daily discards tons of food and medicine there are children, hungry and suffering from easily curable diseases, who cry out in vain.”“In an age which insists on the protection of minors”, he added, “there is a flourishing trade in weapons which end up in the hands of child-soldiers, there is a ready market for goods produced by the slave labor of small children. Their cry is stifled: they must fight, they must work, they cannot cry! But their mothers cry for them, as modern-day Rachels: they weep for their children, and they refuse to be consoled (cf. Mt 2:18).”Pope Francis concluded by telling his Palestinian and global audience, “The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, every child who is born and grows up in every part of our world, is a diagnostic sign indicating the state of health of our families, our communities, our nation. Such a frank and honest diagnosis can lead us to a new kind of lifestyle where our relationships are no longer marked by conflict, oppression and consumerism, but fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation, solidarity and love.”In a significant gesture, at the sign of peace, Pope Francis embraced president Abu Mazen.Earlier in the morning, at the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem, Pope Francis thanked the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas for his warm welcome.“You are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker”, he told him in a speech that for the most part focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that also explicity recognized “the Palestinian State”, as most states in the world have done since the United Nations General Assembly recognized it in 2012.“For decades the Middle East has known the tragic consequences of a protracted conflict which has inflicted many wounds so difficult to heal”, he said, and even in the absence of violence “the climate of instability and a lack of mutual understanding have produced insecurity, the violation of rights, isolation and the flight of entire communities, conflicts, shortages and sufferings of every sort.”  He expressed his “closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict”.He went on express his heartfelt conviction “that the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable”. For the good of all, he said, “there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security.” Addressing the Palestinian leadership, but also with an eye to the Israeli leadership in Jerusalem, Pope Francis declared with utmost clarity: “The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”

He expressed the hope that all sides “will refrain from initiatives and actions which contradict the stated desire to reach a true agreement, and that peace will be pursued with tireless determination and tenacity”.Peace, he reminded them, “will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole”.  For this reason, “it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices.”In Ramallah, 45 kms from Bethlehem where the Prince of Peace was born.  Pope Francis prayed “that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and their respective leaders will undertake this promising journey of peace with the same courage and steadfastness needed for every journey.”  He told them that “Peace in security and mutual trust will become the stable frame of reference for confronting and resolving every other problem, and thus provide an opportunity for a balanced development, one which can serve as a model for other crisis areas.”He also reminded the Palestinian leadership that an active Christian community (of some 40,000 faithful) in their homeland  “contributes significantly to the common good of society, sharing in the joys and sufferings of the whole people. Christians desire to continue in this role as full citizens, along with their fellow citizens, whom they regard as their brothers and sisters.”He acknowledged “the good relations” that exist between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, and his appreciation for the efforts being made to draft an agreement between the parties “regarding various aspects of the life of the Catholic community in this country, with particular attention to religious freedom.” He emphasized the importance of “this fundamental human right” which “is one of the essential conditions for peace, fraternity and harmony” and “tells the world that it is possible and necessary to build harmony and understanding between different cultures and religions.Religious freedom, the Pope said, “also testifies to the fact that, since the important things we share are so many, it is possible to find a means of serene, ordered and peaceful coexistence, accepting our differences and rejoicing that, as children of the one God, we are all brothers and sisters.”Pope Francis concluded by praying that God may bless and protect the Palestinian President and grant him “the wisdom and strength needed to continue courageously along the path to peace, so that swords will be turned into ploughshares and this land will once more flourish in prosperity and concord.”

05/25/2014 - THE VATICAN INSIDER-Francis prays in silence before the Wall of division-THE POPE IN FRONT OF THE “WALL OF SHAME”A significant unscheduled stop: he has the popemobile stop and prays in silence before the security barrier erected by the Israeli government, resting his forehead upon it-Gianni Valente

BETHLEHEM-Pope Francis has touched the Wall of Shame. In a resounding unscheduled stop during his visit to the Holy Land, before the Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the Bishop of Rome asked to be driven in front of a point of the cement barrier that Israel has been constructing since 2002 and that runs largely through Palestinian occupied territory, contravening international laws. There, Pope Francis remained a few minutes in total silence, surrounded by a group of young Palestinians.It was a silence that said more than a thousand speeches could, before the wall that, as the Mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun has said, also separates the Birthplace of Jesus from the place of his Resurrection. With his silent gesture, Pope Francis brought before the conscience of the world the wall erected unilaterally by the Israeli government as a protective barrier against terrorism, which itself has become a global symbol of injustice and oppression.The barrier extends for over 700 km, and in some points reaches 28 km over the “green line” – the Israeli border prior to the war in 1967 – to encompass Israeli settlements. By doing this, Israel has made it architectonically impossible to reverse the occupation and settlement of large areas of Palestinian land. In May 2004, construction of the barrier led to the clearing of 100 thousand olive and citrus fruit trees, the demolition of green houses, irrigation plants and storage units and the confiscation of thousands of square kilometres of land belonging to Arab families. In addition to the UN resolutions, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has defined the construction of the wall and the effects it has on the lives of the local population as “against international law”.The wall divides the lives of the communities in two, cuts off the horizon and suppresses freedom of movement, it prevents the farmers from accessing their lands and keeps families apart. The Christian communities of the Beit Jala district next to Bethlehem, also suffer greatly from it, and have been involved in a legal battle with the Israeli Court to prevent the wall from begin extended along its planned route and eviscerating the Cremisan Valley, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, a precious “green lung” for the entire region. If the project goes ahead, the four hundred children that attend the local school of Salesian Sisters will be forced to spend their childhoods in a sort of open air prison, surrounded by barriers and check-points. Some time ago, rumours spread of a Vatican nulla osta,or order not to oppose the construction on lands confiscated from the Palestinians and Salesian religious communities, although this was not true.Since October 2011, the priests of the Latin parish of Beit Jala have been holding mass and reciting prayers among the olive groves of the Cremisan Valley, praying that the route of the Wall will be revised so that it will not massacre the valley. Last October, one of the priests had the chance to deliver a letter to Pope Francis, in which he denounced the “Wall of annexation” as one of the tools employed to “annex our land to Israel” and explained that today the Beit Jala area has been reduced to just “4 square kilometres, less than a third of its original size”.John Paul II spoke of the wall, to reiterate that “the Holy Land is in need of bridges not walls”. Pope Benedict XVI too, during his visit to Bethlehem, spoke strongly about the Wall “that comes into your lands, separating neighbours and dividing families.” Now Pope Francis’ gesture, in his silent overtness, embraces and questions everybody concerned, first and foremost the Israeli people who – as cardinal Pietro Parolin stated before leaving for the Holy Land, expressing the view of the Holy See – must be able to live in peace and security in the land that bears their name.Without proclamations, without invectives, the Pope “taken” almost to the end of the earth, moves amongst the visible signs of the wounds opened by the Arab-Israeli conflict with unarmed liberty or shunning security measures. Without worrying about the misunderstandings fostered by prejudice. He embraces the sense of impotence of the Palestinian farmers with the same free expression with which tomorrow he will lay flowers at Mount Herzl, which takes its name from the founder of the Zionist movement. This is how Pope Francis looks upon the suffering, injustices and wounds of the world: with an unarmed liberty that questions the consciences of everyone, and is against no one.

Peres, Abbas accept pope’s invitation to Vatican meeting-After Bethlehem visit, including unscheduled stop at security barrier, Francis heads to Israel; calls the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ‘increasingly unacceptable’-By Times of Israel staff May 25, 2014, 6:53 am 6

Pope Francis is in the Holy Land on a historic two-day tour. Stay with The Times of Israel for our live blog of his visit.

Pope tells Palestinian children to eschew violence.Speaking to Palestinian children in Bethlehem, the pontiff urges the kids never to “abandon hope, and always look forward.”“You don’t solve violence with violence,” he says. “Peace is achieved with hard work and dignity.”
Pope meets Palestinian kids in Bethlehem-Paying a visit to the Phoenix Center in Bethlehem before departing, Pope Francis meets with a group of Palestinian children from the refugee camps of Dheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin.Palestinian children held up signs in Arabic, English and Italian calling the pope’s attention to a variety of Palestinian issues, including the hardships faced by Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus, Syria.“We demand the freedom to worship,” one sign read.One of the children addressed the pope saying that despite the hardships of life under Israeli military rule, “We the children of Palestine haven’t lost hope yet.”“Your visit gives us hope,” the boy said.“This occupation is a sin against God and man. It deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights,” he told the pope. “Let’s all pray for a fair, all-encompassing peace.”Speaking on behalf of the “imprisoned and hurt” children of his refugee camp, the boy called for the pope to intercede for justice’s sake.
Pope set to depart from Bethlehem, fly to Israel-Pope Francis is wrapping up his stay in Bethlehem with a visit to the Grotto of the Nativity, the cave atop which the eponymous church is built, and where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born. After a final farewell with Palestinian officials at 4 p.m., Francis will fly by helicopter to Ben Gurion International Airport for his reception by Israeli officials.From there, the pope travels to Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus for a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Constantinople and leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians. The two are slated to sign a joint declaration, then hold a joint prayer session at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Pope’s wall visit sparks spoofs-The pope’s impromptu visit to the security barrier in Bethlehem on Sunday has already generated online spoofs. The Pan Arabian Enquirer, a comedy and satire website from the Gulf, tweeted an image of Francis putting a “dope tag” on the wall.
Peres, Abbas confirm Vatican meeting in June-Israeli, Palestinian presidents confirm they will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican next month. Francis invited Abbas and Peres to join him in Rome for a prayer for peace summit after conducting a mass in Bethlehem.
Pope’s visit called ‘better than expected’ for PA-A Palestinian official tells the BBC that Pope Francis’s spontaneous, unscheduled prayer pit stop at the security barrier in Bethlehem on Sunday afternoon makes the papal visit to the Palestinian territories “much better than expected.”PLO official told me that Pope's decision to stop at wall to pray makes this a much better than expected visit for Palestinians.— Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) May 25, 2014
Francis invites Peres, Abbas to Vatican for prayer for peace-The peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians having collapsed last month, Pope Francis calls on President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas to join him in a prayer for peace at the Vatican.“I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer,” Francis said after mass in Bethlehem.
The Bishop of Rome will now have lunch with five Palestinian families before visiting the Dheisheh refugee camp just outside the West Bank city.President Shimon Peres meeting with Pope Francis I at the Vatican in Rome, Italy on April 30, 2013. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Lebanese cleric not flying to Ben-Gurion-The Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Ra’i, whose participation in the pope’s visit was a source of controversy in the Arab world, will not be joining Francis on his helicopter journey to Ben-Gurion Airport and during his stay in Israel, Nasser Atta of ABC News reports.
Pope’s mass interrupted by mosque’s call to prayer-The Muslim call to prayer from the Mosque of Omar on Manger Square in Bethlehem interrupted Pope Francis’ mass outside the Church of the Nativity.According to Israel Radio reporter Gal Berger, the Christian crowd responded to the muezzin’s call with whistles and shouts, and the choral music was turned up in order to drown it out. Army Radio reports the calls of “God is Great” in Arabic were met with cheers of “Viva Il Papa” by the Christians.The mosque, a symbol of religious coexistence, was built where Omar Ibn El Khattab, a successor to Mohammed, visited Bethlehem in 637 after issuing an edict pledging safety to all Christians and clergy and respect for their shrines. The mosque stands opposite the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square.
Full text of pope’s statement to Abbas-The Palestinian Ma’an news agency publishes the full text of Pope Francis’s statement at the presidential palace in Bethlehem to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Francis tells Abbas that he is “known as a man of peace and a peacemaker.”
The pope for president? -Israeli comedy show “Eretz Nehederet” conflates Pope Francis’s visit with the increasingly competitive horserace for the Israeli presidency in a picture uploaded to its Facebook page. The photo, taken during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Rome in December 2013, shows Netanyahu and his wife with Pope Francis. Sara Netanyahu prompts her husband, “Ask him.” Netanyahu then asks the pontiff, “Want to be president?”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife and Pope Francis appear in a photoshopped image by Eretz Nehederet. "Ask him," Sara Netanyahu prompts. Netanyahu asks the pontiff, "Want to be president?" (photo credit: Eretz Nehederet/Facebook)-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife and Pope Francis appear in a photoshopped image by Eretz Nehederet. ‘Ask him,’ Sara Netanyahu prompts. Netanyahu asks the pontiff, ‘Want to be president?’ (photo credit: Eretz Nehederet/Facebook)
PM: Pope’s visit a chance to show ‘modern, tolerant Israel’-As Pope Francis spends the morning in Bethlehem, and Israel makes the final preparations for his arrival in Israel in the afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the cabinet that Francis’s visit is “an opportunity to present to the world the true Israel, an advanced, modern, tolerant Israel, in practice the only state in the Middle East which ensures complete freedom of religion to members of every religion, [which] protects holy places and guarantees the rights of all — Jews, Muslims, Christians, all.”Worshippers and dignitaries gather in Manger Square in Bethlehem for Sunday mass (screen capture: CTV)
Photo: Francis at the wall-Ma’an News publishes a photo of Francis standing by a walled section of the security barrier in Bethlehem, before traveling to Manger Square.
Live feed of Francis’s mass in Bethlehem-Here’s a live feed of the Holy Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, courtesy of the Vatican News Agency:
Pope begins Holy Mass in Bethlehem-Pope Francis walks onto a yellow-and-white festooned dais in Manger Square accompanied by a coterie of white-robed Catholic priests for mass. With a large mural of the birth of Jesus behind him, the infant draped in a checkered Palestinian scarf, Francis leads the prayers with choral accompaniment.Francis is reportedly accompanied in Bethlehem by Maronite Cardinal Bechara Boutros al Ra’i and the heads of the Chaldean and Coptic Catholic churches.
Pope reaches Manger Square to cheers of ‘Viva Il Papa’-To cheers and shouts of “Viva Il Papa,” Pope Francis arrives in a jam-packed Manger Square. The people crowding the square wave flags of Francis’s native Argentina, Palestine, the Vatican, Ukraine, and a dozen other countries.
Pope departs for Bethlehem’s Manger Square-Leaving the presidential palace in his open-topped popemobile, Francis and his official motorcade set out for Manger Square, where droves of people await his arrival for a Holy Mass outside the Church of the Nativity.En route to Manger Square, the pope stops next to a section of the security barrier, which in this section is a large concrete wall.
Pope calls Israeli-Palestinian conflict ‘increasingly unacceptable’-Pope Francis has called the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict “increasingly unacceptable,” urging both sides to take courageous and creative decisions to forge peace.Francis spoke Sunday alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after landing in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state. Previous popes making Mideast pilgrimages always landed in Israel first and then travelled to the West Bank.Francis said: “The time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable.” He said both sides needed to make sacrifices to create two states, with internationally recognized borders, for the good of their own people. (AP)
Abbas thanks pope for helping Palestinians live occupation-free-Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thanks Pope Francis for his efforts to help the Palestinian people live in an “occupation-free Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”He says the pope saw “this disgusting wall [with] your own eyes,” referring to Israel’s security barrier which runs between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Pope to refer to ‘State of Palestine’ in Bethlehem speech-Pope Francis’s prepared remarks for his speech in Bethlehem includes reference to “State of Palestine,” Buzzfeed’s Sheera Frenkel and The New York Times’s Jodi Rudoren say.Readout of speech that @Pontifex is about to give in Bethlehem has him saying he is in "State of Palestine." Would be a first.
Yellow-and-white Vatican flags fly over Bethlehem, Jerusalem-Vatican banners flutter over the streets of both Jerusalem and Bethlehem in honor of Pope Francis’s arrival.The Prime Minister’s Office publishes the official logo of the pope’s visit, a combination of the Star of David and the crossed keys of the Holy See flanked with olive branches.
Throngs mass in Bethlehem to greet Pope-Masses gather in Bethlehem’s Manger Square to greet Pope Francis, after His Holiness arrived by helicopter from Amman.According to the Ynet news site, the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories approved entry to Israel for 23,000 West Bank Palestinians, as well as 600 Gazan Christians.Meanwhile, outside the presidential palace in Bethlehem, the pope’s official open-topped vehicle awaits its occupant.
Pope Francis offers less-than-subtle nod to Palestinian state-In its official program for Pope Francis’s arrival in Bethlehem, the Vatican referred to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the president of the “state of Palestine,” AP reports.“The fact that he is coming straight from Jordan to Bethlehem, without going through Israel,” is a tacit recognition of a Palestinian state, said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Christian who is a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization.
These moves are significant. The Palestinian Authority was recognized as an observer state by the UN General Assembly in November 2012, part of its efforts to obtain statehood without depending on peace talks with Israel. The added recognition of the spiritual leader of over a billion Catholics is undoubtedly helpful to these efforts.
10,000 expected at Pope Francis’s 11 a.m. mass-Some 10,000 are expected for Pope Francis’s mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, set to take place at 11 a.m.Francis is slated to meet Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders at 10 a.m., after which he will drive in an open-top car through Bethlehem to Manger Square.
Pope Francis lands in Bethlehem-Pope Francis landed in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Sunday at the start of a two-day tour of the Palestinian territories and Israel.He arrived in a Jordanian military helicopter which touched down at a helipad in the town which is revered as the birthplace of Jesus, and where he was to hold a public mass later in the morning. (AFP)
Palestinian leaflet on pope visit focuses on security barrier-A leaflet produced by the Palestinian Authority (but labeled “State of Palestine” in keeping with the PA’s new claims to statehood after a November 2012 UN General Assembly recognition of “Palestine” as an observer state) shows the highlights of Pope Francis’s itinerary in Bethlehem, at least as the PA sees it.The leaflet (PDF) is dominated by a graphic representation of the Israeli security barrier and red-roofed Jewish settlements. The barrier is labeled “Annexation Wall,” the settlements sport construction cranes.If the pope’s delegation had any doubts about what the PA hoped to achieve from the pontiff’s visit, the leaflet should clarify the matter.Part of a Palestinian Authority leaflet showing the itinerary for Sunday's visit by Pope Francis, dominated by graphic representations of Israel's separation barrier and Jewish settlements. (screenshot)-Part of a Palestinian Authority leaflet showing the itinerary for Sunday’s visit by Pope Francis, dominated by graphic representations of Israel’s security barrier and Jewish settlements. (screenshot)
Bethlehem pulls out all the stops-The city of Bethlehem isn’t holding back for Pope Francis’s visit.
CBC News Middle East correspondent Derek Stoffel, @DerekStoffelCBC, tweets a photo of preparations from Manger Square.
Israeli media disbelieving at pope’s lax security-Pope Francis is famously a man of the people. In the Vatican, he has refused to live in the plush residence of the Bishop of Rome. And he has refused to ride around Rome in the iconic — and bullet-proof — Pope-mobile.That humility has continued in Israel. Pope Francis has adamantly refused, much to the frustration of security-conscious Israeli officials, the kind of protective envelope Israel usually offers visiting officials, not to mention the spiritual leader of over a billion human beings. Francis has refused even the basic precaution of an armored vehicle, according to reports, complicating Israeli security officials’ efforts to stymie the unthinkable: an attack on the pope in the Holy Land.
Pope’s itinerary in Palestinian visit-Welcome to our live blog of Pope Francis’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.Francis kicked off his much-anticipated Middle East visit on Saturday in Jordan, where he called on the international community to heed the plight of Syrians affected by the civil war there. Now he heads to Israel and the Palestinian territories for a series of meetings and stopovers at various sites, some of which are fraught with political significance.Ahead of the visit, the pope has received a lot of love, and no small amount of politics, from both Israel and the Palestinians.The pontiff is heading to Bethlehem by helicopter from Amman for a series of religious events and meetings with Palestinian leaders and children. In the afternoon, he will come to Israel, launching a day of visits to religious sites and meetings with Israeli leaders.The pope’s schedule Sunday in the Palestinian territories, as provided to journalists by Israel’s Government Press Office, is as follows. Based on the language, it seems safe to assume the schedule was originally written by Vatican officials:

8:30 – Departure for Bethlehem by helicopter from Queen Alia International Airport in Amman.

9:30 – Arrival ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem, Courtesy visit to the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

10:00 – Meeting with Palestinian Authority leaders. Discourse of the Holy Father.

11:00 – Holy Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem. Homily of the Holy Father. Regina Coeli prayer. Allocution of the Holy Father.

15:00 – Private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

15:45 – Farewell ceremony from the Palestinian Authority at the Bethlehem helipad.

16:00 – Departure by helicopter from the Bethlehem helipad for Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel.

05/25/2014 - THE VATICAN INSIDER-Pope Francis puts peace at centre stage on his first day in the Holy Land-Pope Francis called on Saturday for an "urgent" end to the Syrian civil war-Francis emphasized the urgent need to end the war in Syria and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He appealed to the international community to assist here, and to help Jordan respond to the refugee crisis-gerard o'connell
amman-Pope Francis is not a man who ignores problems and certainly not those that concern the life and welfare of people. He believes in confronting them and finding ways, in discussion with others, to resolve them.  On the first day of his “pilgrimage of prayer” to the Holy Land, he made abundantly clear that he is keeping to that strategy in relation to the conflicts and problems in the Middle East.Speaking at the Royal Palace in Amman shortly after arriving in this majority Muslim country of 6.3 million people, where he was warmly welcomed by King Abdallah as “the moral conscience of humanity”, he  went straight to the heart of the problems that torment Jordan and the entire Middle East region.He began by praising Jordan for offering “a generous welcome” to “great numbers” of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as those from other troubled areas and in particular Syria.  The Government recently said that Jordan has given refuge to 1.3 million refugees.  The UNHCR say 600,000 of them from Syria.Pope Francis knows well that refugees are the sad product of conflicts, and so he went to the heart of the situations that produce refugees by calling for “lasting peace” in the Middle East.  He praised the Jordanian authorities for their efforts towards this goal, and went on to state clearly that this goal “requires that a peaceful solution be found to the crisis in Syria, as well as a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. In his homily at Mass in the International Stadium in Amman, before an enthusiastic crowd of 30,000,  Pope Francis reminded Christians that  the Spirit of Christ, which has come to them through baptism and is given to Christians, is a Spirit that creates harmony and peace “in different situations and between different people”. He reminded this small Christian community  (around 2-3% of the population) which has been here since apostolic times and which, he said, enjoy full religious freedom, that they are “sent as messengers and witnesses of peace”. But, Pope Francis reminded them that “peace is not something which can be bought; it is a gift to be sought patiently and to be ‘crafted’ through the actions, great and small, of our everyday life”.  Indeed, he said, “the way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we are all of the same stock and members of one human family; if we never forget that we have the same heavenly father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness”. As he concluded that homily, he had a special word of “affection” for the many Christian refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq”, and assured them of his “closeness to them”.Late that same evening, he met 600 refugees at the Latin church in Bethany-beyond-the Jordan, and told them, “I have greatly desired to meet with you who have had to leave your homes and your country as a result of violence and conflict”.He told these refugees from Iraq, Syria, Palestine and other lands, and the young people with disabilities whom he also met at the same time, that he was “profoundly affected by the tragedies and sufferings of our times, particularly those caused by ongoing conflicts in the Middle East”, and especially by the three-year long conflict in Syria “which has caused countless deaths and forced millions to flee and seek exile in other countries”.  An estimated 140,000 have been killed in the war in Syria and around 4 million have been forced to leave the homes and many of them their country.There at Bethany beyond the Jordan, in his meeting with the young refugees, he again praised Jordan for its great generosity in opening to the refugees and he implored the international community “not to leave Jordan alone” in meeting this “humanitarian emergency”.  He renewed  his “appeal for peace in Syria”, “for the violence to cease” and for “respect for the humanitarian law” in that war torn country where this law is violated on a massive scale. there.   He prayed that “all parties” would “abandon the attempt to resolve issues by the use of arms, and return to negotiations” and insisted that a political solution can only be found “through dialogue and restraint”.  He asked the young people with disabilities and the refugees to offer their sufferings and prayers for this goal.He appealed yet again to the international community to help Syria “rediscover the path of peace”, and he prayed that God “may change the hearts of the violent and those who seek war”, “and convert those who make and sell arms that feed wars”, and  “strengthen the hearts and minds of peace makers”.IKing Abdallah of Jordan, welcoming at the Royal Palace, had hailed him as “the moral conscience of humanity” and told him “your humanity and wisdom can make a special contribution to easing the crisis of Syrian refugees and the burden on host neighboring host countries like Jordan”.  Furthermore, the King said, “your actions and support also continue to needed to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their long conflict”.It is already clear that Pope Francis intends to do everything in his power, by word and gesture, in the coming days to work towards that goal. The Palestinians have high hopes that he can help them have their own state, with justice and peace.  The Israelis hope he can somehow assist them onto the path of lasting peace with security.  Since everybody knows that this Pope is a man of action as much as words, Israelis and Palestinians alike will be listening attentively to what he says, and will watch carefully what he does as he moves among them.His one day in Jordan went splendidly well, and underlined yet again how this Kingdom is an example to the world of Christian-Muslim relations.  The next two days will be a much greater challenge.

Pope Francis prays at Bethlehem wall, calls for Middle East peace
By Philip Pullella and Noah Browning -MAY 25,14-YAHOONEWS

Pope Francis waves upon his arrival at the West Bank town of Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - Pope Francis made a surprise stop at the hulking wall Palestinians see as a symbol of Israeli oppression on Sunday, minutes after begging both sides to end a conflict that he said was no longer acceptable.In an image set to become one of the most emblematic of his trip to the holy land, a somber-looking Francis rested his forehead against the concrete structure that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and prayed silently as a child holding a Palestinian flag looked on.He stood at a spot where someone had sprayed in red paint "Free Palestine". Above his head was graffiti in broken English reading: "Bethlehem look like Warsaw Ghetto", comparing the Palestinian plight with that of the Jews under the Nazis.Israel says the barrier, erected 10 years ago during a spate of Palestinian suicide bombings, is needed to secure its security. Palestinians see it as a bid by Israel to partition off territory and grab land they want for their future state.On the second leg of a three-day trip to the Middle East, Francis delighted his Palestinian hosts by referring to the "state of Palestine", giving support for their bid for full statehood recognition in the face of a paralyzed peace process.But, speaking at the birthplace of Jesus in the Palestinian-run city of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, he made clear that a negotiated accord was needed, calling on leaders from both sides to overcome their myriad divisions.Francis invited the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to come to the Vatican to pray for an end to the enduring conflict, just a month after the collapse of U.S.-backed peace talks."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," the Pope said at an open-air Mass in Bethlehem.A spokeswoman for Peres said in Jerusalem that the president "always accepts any kind of initiative to promote peace". While Abbas heads the Palestinian government, Peres's post is largely ceremonial and he is due to leave office in July.


Francis had flown by helicopter to Bethlehem from Jordan, where he started his tour on Saturday, becoming the first pontiff to travel directly to the West Bank rather than enter via Israel - another nod to Palestinian statehood aspirations.He was due to travel to Israel later in the day for a swirl of meetings, with some 8,000 police deployed in Jerusalem to guarantee his security.Israeli police said they arrested 26 people who took part in a protest early on Sunday by Jewish nationalists at the Cenacle in Jerusalem, the traditional site of Jesus's Last Supper, where Francis is due to hold a Mass on Monday.The protesters say the authorities are preparing to hand the Church the site, where some Jews believe King David is buried. The Israeli government has denied any such deal.Israel has blamed the Palestinian president for the failure of the latest peace talks, but standing alongside Abbas, Francis pointedly referred to him as "a man of peace and a peacemaker".Although the Vatican said the primary purpose of this visit was religious, political overtones were ever present.A mural behind the altar at the Bethlehem Mass showed Jesus, who was a Jew, swaddled in a Palestinian keffiyeh, with his father, Joseph, also wearing the black and white headdress, made famous by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.Pictures equating Palestinian suffering with that of Christ dotted the city. The pope was later due to meet refugees at a camp set up after the 1948 creation of Israel, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled, or were forced to abandon their homes.To avoid a diplomatic tangle, Francis will then get back in his helicopter and fly to Tel Aviv airport for a welcoming reception from Israeli leaders, rather than drive the short distance to Jerusalem.Israel calls Jerusalem its eternal and undivided capital, having annexed Arab neighborhoods seized in the 1967 war, including the Old City, the site of the main religious shrines. The rest of the world has not recognized the annexation.From Tel Aviv, he will fly to Jerusalem for what he has said is the main purpose of the trip - to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting of Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders, who moved to end centuries of bitter divisions between the two churches.(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Peter Graff)

Pope Calls to End 'Unacceptable' Arab-Israeli Conflict-Pope Francis begins expected 'charm offensive' towards both Israel and the PA as he arrives from Jordan; backs 'two-state solution'.
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By AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff-First Publish: 5/25/2014, 10:23 AM-IsraelNationalNews

Pope Francis on Sunday urged an end to the "increasingly unacceptable" Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling on leaders to show "courage" to achieve a peace based on a two-state solution."The time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable," he said in the Judean town of Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born."The time has come for everyone to find the courage... to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgement by all of the right of two states to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognised borders."Pope Francis arrived in Bethlehem Sunday to begin the most sensitive part of his three-day Middle East tour aimed at easing an ancient rift with Orthodox Christians and forging regional peace.He made the short trip from Amman, where he began his visit Saturday, aboard a Jordanian military helicopter.The pontiff appeared tired as he was helped down the steps to a red carpet welcome from local Palestinian Authority officials and priests.Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas received him at his palace with a warm embrace.Francis, who made an urgent appeal Saturday to end the bloodshed in Syria, has now taken his "pilgrimage of prayer" to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. There he was to celebrate mass with 10,000 people in Bethlehem's packed Manger Square, near the site which Christians say was Jesus' birthplace.He is scheduled to begin his official Israeli visit later Sunday.Although Francis himself has said it will be a "purely religious trip," both Israel and the PA will be looking to use the visit to score a few political points.The Vatican said the main reason for the visit was a meeting in Jerusalem with Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, seeking to heal a nearly 1,000-year rift between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.But ahead of the trip, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin defended the Palestinian Arabs' right to a "sovereign and independent" homeland and said he hoped Francis's visit would lead to "courageous decisions" for peace. Since dawn, Catholic pilgrims filed past security barriers into Manger Square. The scene was dominated by stage where the pope was to say mass, decked with huge PLO and Vatican flags and adorned with a giant tableau depicting the birth of Jesus.To get there, the crowd-loving pope will drive through the city in an open-top car, raising security concerns in a region racked by political and religious strife.Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, police arrested 26 Jewish protesters at a site on Mount Zion where the pope will celebrate mass on Monday. Earlier this week, police imposed restraining orders on 15 activists, barring them from sites the pope will visit. Jewish groups are angry over persistent rumors that the Israel government is planning to hand over control of King David's Tomb to the Vatican, despite repeated denials by Israeli officials.Overnight, police with sniffer dogs combed the narrow streets of the Old City, closely examining the stone alleyways down which the pontiff was to walk later Sunday.In a separate development, Israel's foreign ministry confirmed that two of the three people shot dead in an attack Saturday on the Jewish museum in Brussels were Israeli tourists. The incident has drawn condemnation from top Israeli and European officials. 

'Charm offensive'

John Allen, an expert on the Vatican at the Boston Globe, said the pope was likely to "charm" both sides during the Israeli-PA leg of his visit."Francis comes in with a lot of political capital. He's sort of a new Nelson Mandela, a new moral authority on the world stage."The question is: can he spend that moral capital to shame both sides into talking to each other? You might be able to get a public commitment to resume dialogue. It's the most we can expect."US-led peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators collapsed last month amid bitter recriminations, ending a nine-month bid to reach a negotiated solution, with no political initiative on the horizon.Travelling with the Argentine pontiff are two of his old friends from Buenos Aires - Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Islamic studies professor Omar Abboud - in a symbolic gesture of openness. 

'Contribution to peace'

After celebrating mass, the pope will have lunch with several Palestinian Arab families then meet with children at the entrance to Dheishe refugee camp.During the afternoon, he will take a short flight to Tel Aviv where he will be formally welcomed to Israel by President Shimon Peres before flying on to Jerusalem. "I don't think the visit is going to bring the signing of a peace deal tomorrow... but I am sure that it will make a substantial contribution, because the pope respects all cultures and all religions," Peres told French daily Le Figaro.It is inside Jerusalem's walled Old City that he will attend a special joint prayer service with Bartholomew in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - venerated  by Christians as the place of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Abbas Accuses Israel of 'Judaizing' Jerusalem in Papal Meeting-'Religious, not political' visit takes decidedly political turn Sunday, after PA accuses Israel of 'judaization' and Pope calls PA a state.-By AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff-First Publish: 5/25/2014, 1:09 PM / Last Update: 5/25/2014, 2:27 PM-IsraelNationalNews

Pope Francis met with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem Sunday, in a historic meeting that saw Abbas accuse Israel of "Judaizing" Jerusalem. During the meeting, Abbas insisted that Israel is "systematically acting to change [Jerusalem's] identity and character, and strangling the Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims, with the aim of pushing them out."Earlier, Pope Francis addressed what he called "the State of Palestine," according to Ma'an, calling Abbas "a man of peace." In his speech, he called for a two-state solution and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, which he deemed "unacceptable.""The time has come for everyone to find the courage... to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgement by all of the right of two states to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders," he urged. The pope also paused for several moments in front of a graffiti on the security wall in Bethlehem, bowing his head in prayer in front of a message proclaiming, "Pope we need to see someone to speak about justice. Bethlehem look like Warsaw ghetto. Free Palestine." Pope Francis invited both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday to his home in the Vatican for a "heartfelt prayer" for peace."I wish to invite you, president Mahmud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace," he said at the end of an open-air mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem."I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer," he said. "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." According to the Washington Post, both Peres and Abbas accepted the invite Sunday afternoon.

Political or apolitical?

Although Francis himself has said it will be a "purely religious trip," both Israel and the PA will be looking to use the visit to score a few political points. The Vatican said the main reason for the visit was a meeting in Jerusalem with Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, seeking to heal a nearly 1,000-year rift between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.But ahead of the trip, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin defended the Palestinian Arabs' right to a "sovereign and independent" homeland and said he hoped Francis's visit would lead to "courageous decisions" for peace. Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a member of the Argentinian parliament and close friend of Pope Francis, reported in February that the pope intends to define himself as the "Che Guevera of the Palestinians" and support their "struggle and rights" during his visit.It has been noted that the pope has been remarkably tight-lipped over the violent persecution of Christians in Bethlehem, instead choosing to condemn alleged Jewish "price tag" vandalism.