Once the Mass had ended in Manger Square in Bethlehem, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, deeply thanked Pope Francis for his visit.
MSGR. FOUAD TWAL
Patriarch of Jerusalem
"We pray that your visit can revive the message of Christmas in the hearts of men; the message of peace. Many children of the world are forced to wander the streets, and are oftentimes completely abandoned.”
In his response, Pope Francis made an unexpected proposal to the presidents of Israel and Palestine.
"In this place, where the Prince of Peace was born, I would like to invite you, President Mahmud Abbas, and President Shimon Peres, to elevate together with me an intense prayer for peace, asking God for the gift of peace. I offer my home at the Vatican to host this meeting of prayer.”
As he had stated hours earlier in an address to the President of Palestine, Pope Francis reiterated the need for both states to restart their journey towards peace. A journey filled with challenges, but one that is in the best interest of both parties.
"And everyone, especially those who work in the government, have the responsibility to be instruments and builders of peace, starting with prayer. Building peace is difficult, but to live without it is torment.”
The Pope prayed the Regina Coeli with pilgrims, a prayer dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven. He asked for her protection over those who are weak and marganilized in society.