(JNS.org) Israeli President
Shimon Peres will visit Pope Francis I at the Vatican next week, becoming one
of the first heads of state to visit with the new pontiff.
Pope Francis I. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
According to a statement from the Israeli President’s
office, “Peres will raise the issue of furthering peace and stability in the
Middle East, progressing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the
common struggle against world poverty, and the deepening of relations between
Israel and the Vatican and between Christians and the Jewish people.”
Peres will also meet with Italian leaders and
members of Italy’s Jewish community. Peres, a Nobel Laureate, will also be
presented with the “Medal of Honor for Peace” by
Franciscan monks during a visit to Assisi, the home town of the revered St.
Francis of Assisi, who is the current pope’s namesake.
Under Pope Francis’s predecessors, John Paul II
and Benedict XVI, diplomatic ties between Israel and the Vatican grew
substantially. The two states established
diplomatic ties in 1993 and recently signed an agreement formalizing their
relations and resolving outstanding disputes earlier this year. Peres has
already formally invited Pope Francis to visit Israel.