In wrapping up his visit to the Vatican on Tuesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit Israel. “The citizens of Israel see in you a leader of peace and good will. The sooner you visit the better, as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace,” said Peres. He told the pope that his leadership created “a new spirit of hope for peace” at a time when religious leaders in the Middle East were advocating terror and bloodshed.
Pope Francis accepted the invitation “with willingness and joy,” a Vatican spokesman said. The pope shared his plan for an international peace convocation with spiritual leaders of many faiths, which will call for an end to violence “in a loud, clear voice.” Addressing anti-Semitism, he said it was in contradiction to the true spirit of Christianity. “As a Pope, I will not abide by any manifestations of anti-Semitism.”