Pope Prays at West Bank Barrier
Israeli, Palestinian presidents accept invitation to Vatican
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 25, 2014 4:57 PM CDT
Pope Francis prays at Israel's separation barrier on his way to a mass in Manger Square in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Sunday, May 25, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

(Newser) – The pope's Holy Land visit has been full of surprises. In an unplanned move today, Pope Francis stopped to pray at the concrete wall dividing Bethlehem and Jerusalem—a wall which, to Palestinans, symbolizes oppression by Israel, Reuters notes. Graffiti where he prayed read, "Free Palestine." The pope's visit has been marked by support for Palestinian statehood, the AP reports; the Vatican's official program mentions "the state of Palestine," calling Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas a "man of peace."

In another surprise move, Pope Francis invited both Abbas and Israeli president Shimon Peres to pray at the Vatican, Reuters reports. Both men reportedly accepted the invitation, and the gathering is planned for June 6. Meanwhile, the pope worked to heal another rift: the divide between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, the AP reports. Francis prayed with Orthodox patriarch Bartholomew I at the Jerusalem church where both groups believe Jesus was resurrected.

View 2 more images
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Pope Prays at West Bank Barrier is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 26 comments
May 26, 2014 6:11 AM CDT
OK Wall show on the bear where the nasty man touched you.
May 26, 2014 4:35 AM CDT
The Pope seems to be the only world figure who is standing up to the American Jewish community (AIPAC, Israelicentric media) which favors supporting Israel at all costs and against all knowledge of their apartheid and obvious crimes against humanity. (There are Jews who have the courage and sense of right and wrong to not support this, but no one is listening to them:) Good for the Pope, but now expect the Jewish forces mentioned above to go on an all out smear campaign against the Pope and all Catholics. For my money the Pope has a rare and enviable courage that our congress certainly lacks.
May 25, 2014 8:57 PM CDT
Hey look. We need all the help we can get making peace. As a Jew, I am not exactly 100% trusting of the Vatican, but I accept any help that is offered in trying to bring peace to this troubled land, regardless of motivation.