Pope Francis Meets with Mufti Shaikh
Muhammed Hussain in Jerusalem, Texts of Pope and Abbas Speeches
May 25-26, 2014
|Pope Francis holds an open
mass in Bethlehem, May 25, 2014
||Pope Francis meets with
Palestinian children in Bethlehem, May 25, 2014
|Pope Francis visits Al-Aqsa
Mosque, meets with Mufti Shaikh Muhammed Hussain, in Jerusalem,
May 26, 2014
||Pope Francis visits Al-Aqsa
Mosque in Jerusalem, May 26, 2014
|Pope Francis prays for
peace in front of the Israeli Land-Grab, Apartheid Wall in
Bethlehem, May 25, 2014
||The Israeli Land-Grab
Apartheid Wall, imprisoning Palestinians and stealing their
lands (see bigger photo below).
Pope Francis in Bethlehem: How the day unfolded
Maan, 26/05/2014 12:47 (Maan Images/Ramy Abu Diqqa) 16:40
Here ends our live report of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis
to Bethlehem. Francis travels next to occupied Jerusalem, where he will
meet Israeli officials and Christian leaders.
16:39 Pope Francis
has landed in Tel Aviv to begin the last leg of his visit to the Middle
East, reporters observed.
16:19 His Holiness has departed
Bethlehem after an intensive day in the southern West Bank city on his
first official visit to the Holy Land as pope.
In the morning,
Pope Francis led an open-air mass at Bethlehem's historic Manger Square
after touring the city and greeting thousands of cheering onlookers.
He later met five Palestinian Christian families from across the
West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, who shared their experiences and
struggles facing the community including the occupation and the blockade
The pope continued on to Duheisha refugee camp, where he
met with Palestinian children before boarding his helicopter for Tel
This evening and tomorrow, the pope will tour occupied
East Jerusalem, where Israeli forces are on high alert after earlier
arresting 26 Jewish extremists who took part in violent anti-pope
Pope Francis (center) kisses President Mahmoud Abbas
during an open-air mass on May 25, 2014 at Manger Square
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
16:07 The pope has left Duheisha
and arrived at the Bethlehem helipad, where he is preparing to board the
15:54 The delegation of children from
Duheisha refugee camp presented Pope Francis with two gifts on behalf of
the refugee children of Palestine during his visit to the camp.
They gave Francis a large card made in the style of those given out by
the UN's refugee agency UNRWA in the name of Jesus Christ, who the
children referred to as "the first refugee."
They also presented
His Holiness with a key symbolizing the desire to return of 750,000
Palestinian refugees and their descendants who were expelled from what
became Israel in 1948 and were never allowed to go back to their homes.
15:43 Pope Francis is now meeting with children in Duheisha refugee
camp, and the children are presenting a number of their wishes and hopes
for basic freedoms for Palestinians.
Pope Francis is addressing
the crowd in Spanish with an Arabic translator, and the children are
welcoming him and expressing their hopes for peace in the land and
support in the struggle of Palestinians to achieve their "basic rights"
despite living "in the shadow of occupation."
The children also
express their solidarity with the more than 100 hunger-striking
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons protesting their detention
without charge or trial, as well as solidarity with Palestinian refugees
in Syria's besieged Yarmouk camp.
As the pope is speaking,
children are raising posters with various statements inscribed on them
including "Muslims and Christians live under occupation" and "We demand
the freedom of worship."
15:30 Pope Francis has left Manger
Square en route to Duheisha camp, where he will meet with children from
Bethlehem's largest refugee camp before continuing on to Jerusalem.
Duheisha refugee camp is one of three camps in Bethlehem housing
more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees whose families were expelled or
fled from their homes in what is today Israel in 1948.
never allowed them to fulfill the right to return to their homes,
similar to around 9 million Palestinians worldwide.
Palestinian officials have reportedly accepted a papal invitation to
attend a Vatican meeting with an Israeli delegation, CNN reported
The US news agency quoted an unnamed PLO executive
committee member saying that the Palestinians were willing to take up an
offer by the pope earlier today during his visit to Bethlehem.
PLO spokesman told Ma'an that he could neither confirm nor deny the
Pope, Orthodox patriarch in historic unity meet in Jerusalem
Maan, 26/05/2014 12:49
Pope Francis joined with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I for a
historic unity service Sunday at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in
Jerusalem, Christianity's holiest site.
They met at the Church
of the Holy Sepulcher inside the walled Old City after signing a
landmark pledge to work together to further unity between the eastern
and western branches of Christianity, estranged for a millennium.
The meeting has been billed as the main reason for the pope's
three-day trip to the Middle East, which ends on Monday.
commemorates the historic rapprochement between both branches of the
Christian church 50 years ago, when Pope Paul VI met and embraced
Patriarch Athenagoras -- the first easing of tensions between the
Churches since the Great Schism in the 11th century.
knelt side by side in prayer on the rough Stone of the Anointing, where
the body of Jesus was laid before burial, removing their headgear as
they did so.
Both had to be helped to their feet by aides at the
end of the prayer. The pope is 77, Bartholomew, one of the Orthodox
Chuch's most revered figures, 74.
A choir sang a Greek chant as
they slowly walked into a joint service in the dimly-lit church, packed
with religious figures and dignitaries, and later burst into a joyous
rendition of Hallelujah.
Earlier, the two men signed a joint
pledge to pursue common dialogue, which reaffirmed values common to the
Catholic and Orthodox churches.
"Our fraternal encounter today
is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity... of
communion in legitimate diversity," says the declaration which was
signed in the presence of representatives of 13 Catholic and Orthodox
churches in Jerusalem.
The logo for the pope's journey is a
picture of St Peter and St Andrew -- symbolizing the churches of the
east and west -- embracing in a boat with a mast in the shape of a
The Great Schism in 1054 split Rome and Constantinople,
seat of Orthodoxy.
According to Christian tradition, the Church
of the Holy Sepulcher where the joint service was held, was built on the
site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Pope visits Jerusalem holy sites on last day in Mideast
Maan, 26/05/2014, 11:35 (AFP)
JERUSALEM (AFP) --
Pope Francis called for Christians, Jews and Muslims to work together
for peace as he toured holy sites in Jerusalem on Monday, the final day
of his Middle East pilgrimage.
On an early-morning tour of key
sacred places in the walled Old City, the 77-year-old pontiff first
visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, then prayed at the Western Wall
which lies just beneath it.
Pope Francis was given a tour of the
Asqa compound by Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, who gave Francis a letter
speaking about the suffering of the Palestinians and the mistreatment of
holy sites in Jerusalem.
Sheikh Hussein also talked about the
destructive effects of Israel's separation wall on the Palestinians,
concluding by calling for an end to the occupation and peace and
security for all.
The pontiff was rounding off a whirlwind trip
which saw him issue a unique invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian
presidents to pray with him at the Vatican to end their "increasingly
unacceptable" conflict, as well as snatching a personal prayer moment at
Israel's controversial separation barrier.
Francis had promised
the three-day pilgrimage, which began on Saturday in Jordan, would steer
clear of political issues.
But he ad-libbed from his scripted
speech to condemn antisemitism, religious intolerance and those behind
conflicts in the Middle East.
"May we work together for justice
and peace," Francis said after being shown around the Al-Aqsa compound,
which is also considered sacred by Jews because it was the site where
their two famed Jerusalem temples once stood.
exquisite blue-tiled Dome of the Rock with its landmark golden cupola,
used as a place of worship for women only, the pope first removed his
shoes before walking down to visit the smaller, silver-domed Al-Aqsa
For Jews, the plaza is the holiest site in Judaism but
they are forbidden by law to pray there, praying instead at the adjacent
Western Wall, where the pope made his next stop.
right hand on the ancient stones, he bowed his head in prayer for a few
minutes before placing a note in the wall, then sharing an emotional
embrace with two close Jewish and Muslim friends traveling with him.
A controversial mass
Later in the morning, he will visit the
Yad Vashem Holocaust museum where he will speak with survivors, and will
become the first pope ever to lay flowers on the grave of Theodore
Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.
At the end of the day, the
will also celebrate mass at the site known as the Cenacle, or Upper
Room, bringing into sharp focus a decades-long debate over prayer rites
at the site where Christians believe Jesus had his Last Supper.
The site on Mount Zion, is located in a two-story building also
considered holy to Muslims and Jews, who regard it as the place where
the biblical figure David was buried.
Thousands of cheering,
flag-waving Christians welcomed the pope to Bethlehem on Sunday, where
he celebrated mass in Manger Square.
He also made an unscheduled
stop by the West Bank separation wall, climbing out of his open jeep to
pray, his forehead and hand resting against the wall, in a powerful show
of support for Palestinians.
A message scrawled on the
eight-meter high concrete barrier said: "Pope we need someone to speak
At the end of the open-air mass, the pope weighed
in on the Middle East conflict, inviting President Mahmoud Abbas and his
Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres to join him at the Vatican for a
"heartfelt prayer" for peace.
In the wake
of the latest breakdown in US-led peace talks, Francis called on leaders
to show "courage" to achieve peace based on a two-state solution, saying
"building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant
A senior Palestinian official confirmed Abbas had
accepted and would visit the Vatican on June 6, while Peres's spokesman
said only that the invitation was welcomed.
In a boost for
relations between bickering Christians, Francis on Sunday also joined
Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I in an historic joint prayer for unity
between Rome and Constantinople.
The pair met, embraced and
kissed at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher inside the Old City to mark
the historic meeting 50 years ago between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch
Athenagoras -- the first easing of tensions between the churches since
the Great Schism of the 11th century.
Francis has said the main
reason for his Middle East visit was the meeting with Bartholomew I, and
"to pray for peace in that land, which has suffered so much".
Pope Francis holds open-air mass in Bethlehem
Over 9,000 Palestinians and foreign pilgrims gathered in Bethlehem's
Manger Square on Sunday to attend an open air mass held by Pope Francis.
Thousands of people waved flags from Argentina, Colombia, Poland,
Angola, and Mexico, among others, as crowds sang hymns while awaiting
the Pope's arrival.
A large Palestinian and Vatican flag hung
side-by-side over Bethlehem's municipality building, as Palestinians
from Gaza, Nazareth, Ramla, Haifa and across the occupied West Bank
traveled to Bethlehem to see the pope.
disembarked from his motorcade en-route to Manger Square and prayed by
Israel's separation wall, which surrounds the city on its northern side.
Pope Meets Grand Mufti Of Jerusalem In The Al-Aqsa Mosque
Monday May 26, 2014 12:47 by IMEMC & Agencies
His holiness Pope Francis met on Monday [May 26, 2014] the Grand
Mufti of Occupied Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Shaikh Mohammad Hussein,
and various Jerusalemite Islamic and Christian leaders.
arrived at the Al-Aqsa Mosque from its eastern gate, and visited the
Dome of the Rock along with Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad, special adviser
to King Abdullah of Jordan, and various Palestinian figures, headed by
the Grand Mufti.
The Mufti said “peace in Palestine cannot be
reached without a complete end of the occupation”, without the
liberation of the Palestinian people, and called on his holiness to act
on ending the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people,
their land and their holy sites.
The Mufti thanked the Pope for
his stances regarding the Palestinian refugees, and their Right of
Return, adding that he hopes Pope Francis would act on ensuring the
release of all detainees held by Israel and facing ongoing aggression
“Achieving peace requires true regional, national
and international actions on the ground, the Palestinian people are
struggling for liberation and independence”, he added, “They seek their
right to establish their independent State, with Jerusalem as its
capital. We want peace based on justice, mutual respect and the return
of all legitimate rights”.
The Mufti also said Jerusalem is the
capital of Palestine, the political and spiritual capital, and that
Israeli soldiers and settlers are ongoing with its violations against
the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy sites,
“Israel is preventing the
Muslims from Gaza and the West Bank from entering the mosque to pray”,
he stated, “Access to holy sites is one of the basic rights guaranteed
by international laws and treaties”.
On his part, the Pope said
he came to Palestine to meet Muslims, Christians and Jews, “to hold
brotherly talks with all faiths”, and added that Abraham made a
pilgrimage for justice and peace, “therefore, we all need to seek peace
and justice through worship, for the sake of humanity in the world”.
“From this holy site I salute all faiths in the Holy Land, let us
respect and love each other as brothers and sisters”, the Pope added,
“Let us understand each other, and work towards peace”.
in the day, soldiers invaded the yards of the mosque, closed its gates
and forced the worshipers out, except for some mosque employees and a
few religious leaders, the WAFA news agency said.
Pope Meets with Abbas
Sunday May 25, 2014 19:49 by Chris Carlson - 1 of International
Middle East Media Center Editorial Group
In an official reception with President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis I
of the Roman Catholic Church voiced hopes that peace in the Middle East
could soon surface, so as to reach an end to the internationally
recognized suffering of thousands of people as a direct result of over
half a century of internalized conflicts within the region.
(WAFA/PNN) In a joint press conference with President Abbas,
Francis expressed his desire to advance 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.'
can only express my profound hope that all 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 will bring countless benefits for the peoples of
this region and for the world as a whole. And so it must resolutely be
pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices,' said the
Hereby is the full statement by Pope Francis I:
"Mr. President, Dear Friends,
I thank President Mahmoud Abbas
for his kind welcome and I offer cordial greetings to the
representatives of the government and the entire Palestinian people. I
thank the Lord for the opportunity to be here with you today in the
birthplace of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. I thank all of you for your
For decades the Middle East has known the tragic
consequences of a protracted conflict which has inflicted many wounds so
difficult to heal. 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.
my closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict, I wish to
state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to
this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable. For the good
of all, 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.
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
To this end, I can only express my profound
hope that all 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 will bring
countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a
whole. And so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to
make certain sacrifices.
I pray 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. 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.
Here I would like to
say a word about the active Christian community which 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.
Mr President, you are known
as a man of peace and a peacemaker. Our recent meeting in the Vatican
and my presence today in Palestine attest to the good relations existing
between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. I trust that these
relations can further develop for the good of all. In this regard, I
express my 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. Respect for this fundamental human right is, in fact,
one of the essential conditions for peace, fraternity and harmony.
It tells the world that it is possible and necessary to build
harmony and understanding between different cultures and religions. It
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.
dear friends gathered here in Bethlehem: may Almighty God bless you,
protect you and grant you 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
Abbas calls on pope to support
Maan, 25/05/2014 20:15
The following is a translation of President Mahmoud Abbas'
speech at a press conference upon Pope Francis' arrival in Bethlehem
It's a great honor to welcome Your
Holiness to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus (peace be upon him), the
holy blessed land. Welcome, Your Holiness. You are a dear guest to our
people in the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
today carries all the symbolism that your name and holiness hold as a
defender of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. Your visit
represents a call for peace during your pilgrimage to the land of
Palestine, the land of love and peace.
I am very happy to meet
with His Holiness Pope Francis and to listen his wise opinions and his
insightful human vision. The visit of His Holiness holds a noble
significance in our souls and the souls of our people. This is a
historic visit that we cherish in the framework of our friendship and
our spiritual and religious bonding between the Vatican and Palestine,
which we aspire to strengthen. The Holy Land is the destination of
millions of believers. It represents a unique model of coexistence in
the spirit of harmony, brotherhood, and equality in rights and duties.
We welcome you in the State of Palestine with all the love and
hospitality. We welcome your meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew in the city of Jerusalem.
I briefed His Holiness on
the latest developments in the peace process and negotiations towards
reaching a just and lasting peace, to ensures security, safety, and
stability to our region and its peoples.
We have fully updated
His Holiness on the outcome of the peace process and the pitfalls and
obstacles which befell it, primarily the settlement enterprise, and
daily attacks on places of worship including churches and mosques, as
well as the continued detention of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in
Israeli jails , who yearn for freedom. A number of these prisoners have
been on hunger strike for more than 30 days in protest against
ill-treatment and detention without trial or verdict, under the pretext
of "administrative detention."
We have also shared with His
Holiness the tragic situation experienced by the city of East Jerusalem,
the capital of our country, which has been occupied since 1967. Israel
has been systematically working to change the identity and character of
the city, imposing restrictions on the people of Palestine, Christians
and Muslims, in order to displace them and to prevent the faithful from
praying at their holy sites.
We call upon the Israeli government
to cease these practices, which violate international law. And from our
side, our vision is for our capital in East Jerusalem to be open to the
followers of the three monotheistic religions without discrimination.
These Israeli practices have led to the migration of Christians
and Muslims, who should be able to stay on their ancestral land. We are
ready to work together to strengthen the Palestinian indigenous
Christian presence in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem.
would like to express from the bottom of our hearts that we value your
efforts and support for the rights of our people. We count on Your
Holiness to contribute towards enabling our people to attain their
freedom and full independence, by bringing the Israeli occupation to a
complete end and establishing an independent state with East Jerusalem
as its capital.
Your Holiness, you saw the monstrous wall being
constructed by Israel, the occupying power on our land, at a time when
we desperately needed to build bridges of communication and dialogue
rather than anything that would sow the seeds of hatred, malice, and
hostility. We, the people, are looking to live in freedom and dignity
and to have sovereignty over our national soil, away from the
We are committed to the Arab Peace Initiative. Once
Israel withdraws from the territory it occupied in 1967, all the Arab
and Islamic countries will recognize Israel and immediately establish
diplomatic relations with Israel.
Your Holiness, thank you for
meeting with the children of the refugee camps who are living the
tragedy and sufferings of displacement and asylum, which was imposed on
them by the Nakba 66 years ago.
Your Holiness, we don't ask for
the impossible, and we have made sacrifices for peace. We have accepted
the establishment of the independent State of Palestine only on the land
occupied in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside the State
of Israel in security, mutual respect, and good neighborliness.
We also appreciate your willingness to share a meal with the Palestinian
families who are representative of our society that lives under
occupation. This meeting sends a message to the whole world, and reminds
the world of the tragedy of Palestine.
We in Palestine are
counting on your generous efforts towards realizing the rights of our
people and we welcome any initiative which you may take to make peace a
reality in the Holy Land, which will enable our people to build a life
and a future.
It's time to respect the principles of rights,
justice, peace, freedom, and human dignity that you believe in, and
which are the foundation of all religions as well as international laws
and resolutions. These are all principles that must be respected and
applied in the Holy Land.
We take this historic opportunity of
your presence among us today to send a message of peace to our Israeli
neighbors by saying: come and make peace based on truth, justice,
equality, and mutual respect. Your work for the good of your people to
live in prosperity, peace, and stability is the exact same thing that we
Security, peace, and stability are in our mutual
interest, for our region and the whole world. Peace is made with a wise
mind and heart, and a living moral and human conscience, in order to
remove injustice, oppression, and abuse. Also, (peace is made) by
abandoning expansion at the expense of the rights of others -- the
policy of double standards. Honest and sincere intentions are needed to
achieve desired peace, which shall be enjoyed by our future generations.
Your Holiness, thousands of believers have been waiting for you
since the morning in Manger Square to express their love, appreciation,
and respect, and to pray with you to Almighty God for brotherhood, love,
We welcome your Holiness and the Vatican delegation
to Palestine, the land of peace, and we wish you all the health and
happiness and every blessing to the believers.
Peace be upon