Clarification of Pope Francis’ Gift to the President of the State of Palestine and the words “Angel of Peace”

JFL: Several media reports wrote that Pope Francis, when he met Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestine on Saturday, asked him to “be an angel of peace.” Confusion arose when some reports said the Pope called Abbas “an angel of peace.” The following statement was issued by the press office:

Clarification of Pope Francis’ Gift to the President of the State of Palestine and the words “Angel of Peace”

 In response to numerous questions from journalists and media regarding words “angel of peace” attributed to Pope Francis during his presentation of a gift to President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombard issued the following statement of clarification.

“One of the gifts that the Pope often presents to visiting presidents is a large, round, bronze medal by a contemporary artist that represents an “angel of peace.”  When the Pope presents the medal to the president or head of state, he offers a few words of explanation of the gift as well as an invitation to a commitment to peace on the part of the recipient. Each one of us must be for others and for the world an “angel of peace.”  The word angel* means messenger.  I was personally present at yesterday’s audience in the library of the Papal Apartment in the Apostolic Palace but I did not hear the exact words spoken because they were said in a very colloquial manner between the Pope and the Palestinian President who were in close proximity to one another.  In any case, the sense of encouraging a commitment to peace was very clear and I believe that the very gift of the symbol of an angel of peace was made by the Pope with this sole intention as well as many previous presentations of the same gift to Presidents, not only to Abbas.  Keep in mind that to others the Pope has presented a large medal of St. Martin giving his cloak to a poor person, which serves as an invitation to a deeper commitment to serving the poor.”