“It is part of our life now.”
They then met in private for about half an hour, using an interpreter to communicate. According to the Vatican press release, the Pope and the president spoke about the current political and social situation in the Middle East, peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the importance of the city of Jerusalem. The Pope also expressed his concern for the conflict in Syria.
Pope Francis and Shimon Peres also highlighted the improvements in relations between Israel and the Holy See, since the creation of a bilateral permanent working commission 14 years ago.
Peres is on a three day tour to Italy, and will also meet with the Italian president and the new government. He will also receive the Medal of Honor for Peace at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Peres told the Pope he would pray for him there.
The Israeli president gave the Pope a Bible of Jerusalem with black leather binding, in Hebrew and English.
“It is the Holy Bible with a quotation.”
“Thank you very much.”
In the first pages of the Bible, Shimon Peres wrote verses from the Book of Kings: “To His Holiness, Pope Francis, I hope you will prosper in everything that you do and wherever you go.”
“From the Book of Kings. With deep esteem. Signed by Shimon Peres, president of Israel. April 2013.”
The Pope gave the president a small white case with three commemorative medals of his pontificate.
Before saying goodbye, Peres invited the Pope to visit Israel.
“I am waiting for you in Jerusalem, and not just me, but all the people from Israel.”
Shimon Peres is the eight president that has met in person with Pope Francis at the Vatican, since his election on March 13.