Pope Francis

Pope says his ‘most authentic’ gestures in Holy Land were spontaneous

by Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service  |  published on May 27, 2014

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM TEL AVIV — During an inflight news conference May 26 on his return to Rome from the Holy Land, Pope Francis answered several questions about his just-ended three-day visit, giving reporters insights into his thinking and glimpses behind the scenes of the high-profile events.

Regarding his dramatic gestures during the visit, when he prayed at the controversial Israeli-built separation wall in the West Bank and kissed the hands of Holocaust survivors, the pope said the “most authentic gestures are those you don’t think about … mine were not planned gestures, it just occurs to me to do something spontaneously that way.”

The pope said he had considered inviting Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pray with him for peace during the visit, but “there were so many logistical problems, so many, the territory where it should happen, it wasn’t easy.” Instead, he invited the two leaders to join him later at the Vatican for the purpose. Both have accepted, but a date for the event has not been set.

On the status of Jerusalem, which Israel has controversially declared its “complete and united capital,” the pope suggested part of the city might serve as capital for Palestinians under an eventual two-state solution, but that in any case it should be a “city of peace” for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

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