Pope Francis will travel to Bari, the southern Italian Adriatic port city, on 7th July to host a day of reflection and ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East.
The pope intends to invite the heads of Christian churches and communities in the Middle East to join him, the Vatican said on 25th April, announcing the pope’s plans. The Vatican did not release a list of those who would be invited.
Describing Bari as a “window to the East” and noting that it preserves the relics of St Nicholas, venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox, the Vatican said the pope chose the city as an appropriate place to reflect on and pray about “the dramatic situation in the Middle East, which afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith.”
The ongoing violence in Syria obviously is one of the top concerns and an issue for which Pope Francis has made repeated appeals. Reciting the Regina Coeli prayer on 15th April with people gather in St Peter’s Square, he said he was “deeply disturbed by the current world situation, in which, despite the instruments available to international community, it struggles to agree on joint action in favor of peace in Syria and other regions of the world.”
Picture: A Palestinian protester is seen at a tent near the Israel-Gaza Strip border on 17th April. The Arabic script reads, ‘We will return’. (CNS photo/Mohammed Saber, EPA).