The month of June was marked by this solemn prayer meeting for peace in the Holy Land.
The presidents of Israel and Palestine as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople traveled to Rome for the event. They were invited by Pope Francis to pray together for a lasting peace in the land where Jesus walked. It was an initiative that has never been seen before, until now.
The first to pray were the Jewish people, then Christians and lastly, the Muslims. At the conclusion, Pope Francis said that more courage is needed to make peace instead of war and asked them to not forget the victims.
"Many, all too many, of those children have been innocent victims of war and violence, saplings cut down at the height of their promise. It is our duty to ensure that their sacrifice is not in vain. The memory of these children instils in us the courage of peace.”
President of Israel
"I was young, now I'm old. I experienced war. I tasted peace. Never will I forget the families, parents and children who paid the cost of war. All my life I shall never stop to act for peace.”
President of Palestine
"We want peace for ourselves and for our neighbors. We want prosperity and thoughts of peace for us and for others. Lord, listen to our prayers. Give victory to our requests, because You are the most just and merciful, God of all worlds.”
The Pope's intense schedule in those weeks took its toll. Pope Francis postponed several scheduled events on the days following the prayer meeting.
However, that did not stop the Pope from speaking in Calabria, located in southern Italy. It was there where he pronounced one of his strongest messages in the year.
"The mafia is not in communion with God, they are excommunicated. Today we profess this before the presence of Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament, exposed in the altar.”
Almost 200 people have been killed in the last 25 years by the local mafia, also known as l’Ndrangheta.
The Pope's schedule once again took its toll on him. On June 27th, he cancelled a visit to Gemelli hospital at the last minute.
MSGR. CLAUDIO GIULIODORI
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
"The Holy Father, due to a last-minute indisposition, will be unable to make the scheduled visit to Gemelli Hospital.”
It was the seventh time that Pope Francis cancelled a scheduled event in his pontificate.
That same day, the Vatican explained in a press release that Józef Wesoowski, the former nuncio to the Dominican Republic, was removed from the priesthood. The note explained that after the canonical process, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith determined his expulsion from the "clerical state.”
The former nuncio was accused of sexually abusing minors supposedly committed during his stay in the Dominican Republic, between 2008 and 2013.
Throughout the month, the Pope made several pleas for peace in the Ukraine and especially the Middle East.
Faced with the growing violence caused by the Islamic State, Pope Francis called on the international community to promote dialogue and avoid war.
The month of June ended with a visit from the newly crowned monarchs of Spain. King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia Ortiz, who rose to throne several days earlier, on June 19th.