Friday, September 3, 2010

Pope meets Israeli president

Pope Benedict XVI and Israeli President Shimon Peres met in a private audience this week as the first direct peace talks in two years between Israeli and Palestinian leaders were launched in the United States. Catholic Herald has he report:
... According to a written statement released on September 1 by the presidential spokesman, Mr Peres wanted to ask the Pope for assistance in the return of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped from the Gaza border four years ago and is believed to be held in the Gaza Strip.

The president also wished to express concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the potential impact a nuclear weapons arsenal in Iran would have on the Middle East, the statement said.

Details about the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as how to strengthen relations between Israel and the Vatican, were other talking points Mr Peres intended to discuss with the Pope, it said.

At the end of the papal audience, the president gave the Pope a silver menorah made by an Israeli artist.

He had the following personal dedication inscribed on the foot-tall menorah: “To his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the shepherd who seeks to lead us to the fields of blessings and the fields of peace. With great esteem, Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel.”