ASIA/HOLY LAND - Obstacles to peace and that olive tree planted in the Vatican gardens

Saturday, 8 June 2024

Vatican Media

by Father Ibrahim Faltas ofm*

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - Pope Francis wished to recall the June 8, 2014 meeting between the President of the Palestinian Authority Abu Mazen and President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres, with a simple ceremony, but full of ideas for prayer and full of meanings.
In 2014, Pope Francis recited a prayer that deeply reflected the peace mission of his ministry.
Pope Francis prayed with these words:
"Lord God of peace, hear our prayer! We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried…But our efforts have been in vain. Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace.
Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: "Never again war!"…
"And may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam! Amen."

Pope Francis failed to bring the two Presidents together when he made a pilgrim visit to the Holy Land, but invited them two weeks later to the Vatican for a historic meeting, together with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

In 2014 an olive tree was planted, in 2024 that plant, which in the meantime had grown and was thriving, still and always needs care and vital water. Pope Francis' ongoing commitment and constant witness to peace have reached everywhere in the world to give hope to humanity but those who should and must stop the weapons, remain deaf to any appeal.

Exactly one month after June 8, 2014, a conflict that lasted fifty days began. After a peace meeting, we were back in the hell of war. Even in that conflict there were many dead, more than two thousand, and among these 500 children. During that conflict, an Italian journalist, Simone Camilli, and other foreign aid workers and volunteers also lost their lives.

I went to Gaza in August 2014, as soon as the final ceasefire was announced. The destruction and suffering were very evident and painful after 50 days of war.
I cannot imagine Gaza now, after 250 days of war.

There have been many attempts to bring the Holy Land and the Middle East back to stability. So many peace agreements have been disregarded. The Camp David and Oslo accords, various protocols and memoranda have always been followed by increased violence and hatred.
For 76 years and in particular in recent years, conflicts and tensions have not been avoided, on the contrary, the Holy Land is still experiencing war and 8 terrible and devastating months have passed.
I wonder: who is standing in the way of peace? Why is peace not being sought?
I answer: They do not want peace, they do not seek solutions because they have an interest in continuing the path of death, without having an interest in respect of life.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, does not ask us to be "peacemakers", he asks us to be builders of peace. Each of us is responsible if he does not take steps to do so, those who are responsible for war and continue to pursue hatred and violence will have to respond to their conscience, to God and to history. (Agenzia Fides, 8/6/2024)

*Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land