Benedict and Abbas Meet

Pope Benedict XVI and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, discussed the need to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when they met this morning at the Vatican. They also referred to the situation and contribution of Catholics in the Palestinian Territories.

According to a Vatican statement, the dialogue “focused on the situation in the Middle East and, in particular, on the need to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which the rights of everyone are recognized and respected.”

The statement added: “In this context, emphasis was given to the importance of co-operation and mutual respect between the parties involved, and of the support of the international community.”

During the cordial discussions, “reference was also made to the situation of Catholics in Palestine, and in the region more generally, and to the contribution they make to social life and to peaceful coexistence among peoples.”

The two leaders also recalled the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land in May.

Before the 15-minute private meeting got underway, the Holy Father began by asking President Abbas about his Sept. 22 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York. During his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Benedict expressed his firm support for an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution to the conflict.

Abbas subsequently met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the secretary for Relations with States.