In a telegram, Francis writes: “I fondly recall my time with Mr Peres at the Vatican and renew my great appreciation for the late President’s tireless efforts in favour of peace”
by Iacopo Scaramuzzi, Vatican City, September 28, 2016
“I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation,” the Pope said in a telegram written in English, expressing his condolences over the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, highlighting his “tireless efforts in favour of peace” and emphasising the importance of honouring his legacy.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Excellency Shimon Peres, and I wish to convey to you and to all the people of Israel my heartfelt condolences,” Francis began his telegram by saying. In the text, which was addressed to the current president, Reuven Rivlin, he added: “I fondly recall my time with Mr Peres at the Vatican and renew my great appreciation for the late President’s tireless efforts in favour of peace. As the State of Israel mourns Mr Peres, I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation between peoples. In this way, his legacy will truly be honoured and the common good for which he so diligently laboured will find new expressions, as humanity strives to advance on the path towards enduring peace. With the assurance of my prayers for all who grieve, especially for the Peres family, I invoke the divine blessings of consolation and strength upon the nation.”
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, denied the news – initially reported by Israeli daily Haaretz – of the Pope’s potential attendance at Peres’ funeral which is due to take place on Friday. Burke recalled that the Pope will be setting off on his three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan on that day.
Pope Francis esteemed and respected the former Israeli head of State. The president had welcomed the Pope to Israel in 2014 and in June that same year, Peres and the Palestinian president had attended a meeting for peace in the Middle East, hosted by the Pope in the Vatican gardens. The Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew had also been invited to the event. Francis had received Peres even after the latter stepped down as President of Israel. In recent days the Pope sent his wishes to the former Israeli president who was in hospital.