(Vatican Insider) The Middle East and the current turmoil there were at the center of two separate audiences which Francis held this morning. First the Pope received the former president of the Republic of Israel, Shimon Peres and then the Prince of Jordan, Hassan bin Talal. Both were directly involved in Pope Francis’ recent visit to the Holy Land; Francis developed cordial relations with both of them, beyond protocol formalities. Prince Hassan bin Talal is known for his efforts in fostering inter-religious dialogue. Peres was one of the key figures present at the historic meeting of prayer for peace in the Middle East, held in the Vatican Gardens.
The former president of the Republic of Israel had a very specific proposal to make at this meeting. He talked about it in an interview with Famiglia Cristiana before the meeting: his proposal was essentially to create a UN of religions. “The UN has run its course, what we need is an Organisation of United Religions, a UN of religions,” Peres said in his interview with Famiglia Cristiana. This would be the best way to fight against these terrorists who kill in the name of faith, because the majority of people are not like them, they practice their religion without killing anyone, without this thought ever crossing their minds.”
“And I think there should also be a United Religions Charter, just like the UN Charter,” Peres went on to say. “The new Charter would state on behalf of all faiths that slitting people’s throats or carrying out mass slaughters, as we have seen in the past weeks, has nothing to do with religion. This was my proposal to the Pope.”
91-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres underlined that “today we are faced with hundreds, possibly thousands of terrorist movements that aim to kill in the name of God. This is a completely new kind of war compared to those fought in the past. It is different in terms of technique but above all in terms of the reasons for which it is being fought. We have the United Nations to deal with this. It is a political organization but it has neither the armies which nations possess, nor the firm belief which religions foster.”
Due to the power of religions and the Pope’s charisma, Peres would like Pope Francis to lead the proposed UN of religions: “When I look around me I notice one thing: perhaps for the first time in history the Holy Father is a leader who has the respect of many people as well as the most diverse religions and their representatives. Indeed, he may actually be the only leader they really respect. Hence the idea I proposed to Francis.”
Francis welcomed the idea with interest and encouragement; he did not…