JERUSALEM – Pope Francis took a dramatic plunge Sunday into Mideast politics while on his Holy Land pilgrimage, receiving an acceptance from the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to visit him at the Vatican next month to discuss embattled peace efforts.
The summit was an important moral victory for the pope, who is named after the peace-loving Francis of Assisi. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in late April, and there have been no public high-level meetings for a year.
Francis landed in Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state. He called the stalemate in peace talks « unacceptable » and stopped briefly to pray at the Israeli separation barrier surrounding this biblical West Bank town.
At the end of an open air Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the pope invited Palestinian President Mahmoud…
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