Bartholomew: Christians united, real catalysts for peace in the Middle East
by Nat da Polis
The Ecumenical Patriarch arrives today in Rome to take part in the prayer meeting with Pope Francis, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas. The scope of the prayer meeting goes beyond immediate results.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrives tonight in Rome to participate in the prayer for peace tomorrow, at the invitation of Pope Francis.

The pontiff has invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to pray for peace in the war-torn Middle East where the Christian element is about to disappear.

In his letter of invitation, the Pope says that the presence of Bartholomew is "an act of continuity of their common pilgrimage to Jerusalem .... A true gift."

In the message, the pontiff thanks Bartholomew for his insistence on a meeting in Jerusalem "which was a true gift of the Lord to worship together in those holy places and to join in prayer at the tomb of Christ, the foundation of our hope."

Bartholomew has stressed that tomorrow's prayer of takes on a very important significance that goes beyond any immediate results: it wants to show that it is the privileged task of Christians to be the true voice of peace in the world, in accordance with the dictates of our Lord expressed in the apostolic tradition of the true united Church.

In short, true unity among Christians is the real catalyst for true peace in the world and is the only answer to the existential problems of our small planet.

To those Christians who are hesitant towards these initiatives, the ecumenical patriarch reiterated what was said in Jerusalem: "I walked with my brother Francis of the Holy Land without the fears of Luke and Cleopas on their way to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24 13-35), but inspired by a living hope, as we learn from our Lord".

Bartholomew also sees preparations for the celebration of 1700 years since the Council of Nicaea - of which he spoke in Jerusalem with the pope - as part of the path to peace in the world.