Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1401, (12 - 18 July 2018)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1401, (12 - 18 July 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Papal calls for peace

As Christians from around the world gathered in Rome Pope Tawadros II joined in an ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East, writes Michael Adel


 Pope Tawadros II meeting Pope Francis
Pope Tawadros II meeting Pope Francis

Pope Tawadros II arrived in Italy on 6 July to lead a mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul Apostle — Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura — the second largest in Rome.

The pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark and his delegation later joined religious leaders, the majority of them Eastern patriarchs and heads of churches, including Ibrahim Ishak, Patriarch of the Catholic Church in Egypt, for an ecumenical prayer in the southern Italian port city of Bari.

Father Boulos Halim, media spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, said the ecumenical prayer spread a message that aimed to unite people under the banner “peace and goodness for the Middle East”. During the prayer meeting Pope Francis recited a prayer in Arabic. 

Pope Tawadros II called on Middle Eastern leaders to end conflicts that had uprooted large numbers of people and threatened their lives. He held prayers in Arabic dedicated to victims of violence across the region.

“Lord, we pray that your peace comes to our hearts. Remember, Lord, all the martyrs who died for your holy name. We ask you to give peace and tranquility to all areas of conflict in the Middle East.”

 Tawadros told the media on 4 July: “We believe that prayer possesses the power to take us out of any problem, resolve conflicts and illuminate our future with peace and reconciliation.” 
After the prayer he said: “Presenting ourselves together as heads of churches to pray with one voice for all those in conflict offers encouragement to those who have lost hope and fills our hearts with love and compassion for others as we intercede for them.” 

Pope Francis said peace in the Middle East will never be achieved through bifurcation or the pursuit of personal interests. He denounced the “occupation” of land and renewed his appeal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He also condemned the arms trade and its role in aggravating conflicts and called upon global powers to end their “thirst for profit that surreptitiously exploits oil and gas fields without regard for our common home and with no scruples about the fact that the energy market now dictates the rules of coexistence between peoples.”

For the Middle East to flourish peace is essential, he said.

The day-long prayers ended with Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros releasing doves. “We commit ourselves to walking, praying and working together, in the hope that the art of encounter will prevail over strategies of conflict,” Pope Francis concluded.

At the Basilica of St Paul, Pope Tawadros spoke at length about Egypt which he said was battling terrorism and violence which are consuming the world.

“We salute those fighting terrorism in Sinai to purify the land,” he said.

Egypt is also engaged in a battle for development and growth and is advancing steadily despite suffering the repercussions of the revolution, said Tawadros.

“The economic reform policies taking place now should have happened tens of years ago,” he said. He ended his speech by saying: “Take your children to Egypt. Our country is growing.”

Hisham Badr, Egypt’s ambassador to Italy, and Mahmoud Sami, Egyptian ambassador to the Vatican, met with Pope Tawadros on Saturday. According to Badr, the visit by Pope Tawadros will help boost Egyptian tourism and underlined the fact that Egypt was a safe destination for Christian pilgrimages.

At the end of the ecumenical prayer Father Barnabas of Torino and Rome spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly.

“I appreciate Pope Francis’ invitation to Pope Tawadros II. The Egyptian and Italian churches have so much in common. We had a blessed time and felt we were all one,” he said.

It was Pope Tawadros’ second visit to Rome. He first visited the Italian capital in May 2013 to congratulate Pope Francis on his election.

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