Pope Francis should have learned in his visit last week to the West Bank and then to Jerusalem that praying for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is like talking to a wall. But he’s not one to give up easily, so he invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the Vatican on June 8 to seek divine intervention.
That may be the best hope for peace, and that’s a very sad commentary.
The most encouraging aspect of the visit to Israel this weekend of Pope Francis is that such a papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land has become expected, if not routine, in recent years. Francis is the third consecutive pope to make the trip — the first foreign journey of his reign — following John Paul II in 2000 and Benedict XVI in 2009.
In the few months since Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became the head of the Roman Catholic Church he has changed the atmospherics of the Vatican more profoundly — and most observers would emphatically say for the better — than anyone since Pope John XXIII more than 50 years ago.