POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF SHIMON PERES
Pope Francis, upon learning of the death overnight of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, sent the following telegram to current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Excellency Shimon Peres, and I wish to convey to you and to all the people of Israel my heartfelt condolences. I fondly recall my time with Mr. Peres at the Vatican and renew my great appreciation for the late President’s tireless efforts in favour of peace. As the State of Israel mourns Mr. Peres, I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation between peoples. In this way, his legacy will truly be honoured and the common good for which he so diligently laboured will find new expressions, as humanity strives to advance on the path towards enduring peace. With the assurance of my prayers for all who grieve, especially for the Peres family, I invoke the divine blessings of consolation and strength upon the nation. FRANCISCUS PP.”
Pope Francis met President Shimon Peres in 2014 during his three-day trip in late May to Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.A month later, he welcomed Peres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to the Vatican and together they planted an olive tree in the gardens. The pontiff met Peres again in September 2014 in the Vatican. Peres’ term as presidemnt had ended in July of that year-
The closest I ever was to former Israeli President Shimon Peres was on December 29, 2008 when I attended the reception he offered at his residence for the heads of the Christian Churches in Israel. This is a yearly event for the exchange of New Year’s greetings between the president and the religious leaders.
At the time, I was in Bethlehem at the Jacir Palace Hotel for a 10-day visit over the Christmas period. On the 29th, I had gone to Jerusalem with a pastor friend of mine in Beit Sahour, Fr. Faysal, who had business at the Latin Patriarchate. There was the usual stop at the Israeli checkpoint (Bethlehem is in Palestine), documents were shown, questions were asked and the car was examined from top to bottom. We were okayed to pass through and I spent the day at the Patriarchate before going to President Peres’ home.
Just last Monday evening in the Vatican, Pope Francis met with members of the World Jewish Congress.