Full Transcript: Israel’s President Peres Remarks for Pope Francis’s Visit
Below is the full transcript of Israeli President Shimon Peres’s remarks on the occasion of Pope Francis’s visit to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, May 26th, 2014.
“Your Holiness Pope Francis,
I want to welcome you, on behalf of the State of Israel and all the people of Israel, with a warm ‘Shalom,’
You have come to Jerusalem which radiates faith and understands suffering. The humility in your nature and the power in your spirit raised a spiritual elation and a thirst for peace. The values which you stand for enrich us and bring righteousness between people. The moral call remains the wisest human judgment. It has no equal. Today, you are greeted here by a distinguished and diverse representation of Israeli society. A society in which freedom of speech, the right to express oneself and the respect of holy sites are cornerstone values.
With your permission, I shall welcome all those who convened here in your honor – community and religious leaders, city mayors, judges, people of intellect and science. Jews and Arabs, Druse and Circassians, Catholics and Orthodox, young and old, men and women, from the city and from the [sic]
They long to hear your words while they are characterized by their fear of God and the love for humanity. They have come to bless you on inspiring by your very nature trust among the fallen and strength among the trodden. A combatant against discrimination, anti-Semitism and racism.
Your Eminence, the world is shocked by the blood that is shed in city squares, and in the thick of villages. The blood of the clean-handed is crying from the land. The blood of the innocents, the blood of children which had yet to taste the flavor of life.
No one can stand the growing number of widows, orphans, refugees that run with nowhere to go, and foodless. Grief and bereavement calls for true soul-searching, everywhere and at all time.
Your visit, Your Holiness, is a moving event with the power to motivate the religious leaders into joining forces to enable moral ethics and scientific innovations to enable each person to free themselves from despair, poverty and violence.
Faith and science have the power to reveal the hidden strengths within people, the treasures of the land, and the innovation stemming from research centers. All this can bring blessings to our lives.
Sadly, rotten apples are also exposed. Those who plant the seeds of evil today are the terror organizations. They have no pity and spread destruction. They kill without judgment, without distinction, without pity without logic. We must stand together to prevent the menace on the lives of people and on world peace.
In the face of moral corruption we must show moral responsibility. And make clear that there is no greater contradiction than that between faith and murder.
I appeal to all the religious and spiritual leaders of our time: Make your voices clearly heard. With a distinct message. It is our duty that our children, the children of the world, regardless of religion or nationality, may live without fear and grow up in a world free of slaughter, a world which allows each person to live as a human being.
Your Eminence, I know that you stand as firmly as a rock against any attempt to connect religion to terror. And that you aspire to create a common ground for global, regional and individual peace. We join you with body and soul in the effort to thwart murder and replace it by gates of peace.
Distinguished Guests, I welcome the encounters between the religious authorities and the political world that can serve to highlight the spiritual, moral and common foundations that connect them.
Their ability to enhance political aspirations with the religious authority necessary to enable the compromises needed to achieve peace. I believe that your visit and call for peace will echo through the region and contribute to revitalizing the efforts to complete the peace process between us and the Palestinians, based on two states living in peace. A Jewish state – Israel. And an Arab state- Palestine.
This solution can be reached by mutual agreement. I believe that the citizens of the region want peace. They pray for peace. They are ready for peace with their neighbors and with all the nations of our region.
The threats of war will not bring peace. The dead will offer no praise. Only constructive perseverance can achieve peace. Only peace has the power to uproot poverty, overcome despair. Only peace can free people from tyranny. To the skeptics we shall say that we achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan, despite the fact that many saw this as a distant dream.
We are an ancient people, but our path is new. Because our values are constant, but the road is changing. However, there is no contradiction between the Ten Commandments and scientific innovation. In the words of Rabbi Kook: ‘We must sanctify the old, and respect the new.’ Faith and science helped Israel overcome poverty, protect itself, and enabled it to achieve full peace. We will be happy to put our expertise at the disposal of all. And the more this will benefit others, the better it will be for us.
Your visit to the Holy Land is an important opportunity for a joint prayer to God in Heaven for peace. We would be honored to offer such a prayer either in our home or yours. In accordance with your kind offer.
A prayer that children will grow without danger to their lives. That a mother will bear her child without hearing a siren. That every man will sit under his vine or his fig tree untroubled. We will work together, Jews, Christians and Muslims to bring an end to the conflicts.
Economic prosperity and social justice for all. I believe that peace is the key to bringing about these changes.
Our home is open to every pilgrim. As is said in the Book of Isaiah, ‘For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.’ Israel was born in innocence. It was built by pioneers who volunteered and who toiled to create an Israel worthy of the aspirations of our parents and the expectations of our children.
We are a small nation but with the world. A nation dedicated to Tikkun Olam – Bettering the world. A world which you call, ‘a world of brotherhood.’
My dear friend, I was young and now I am old. I learnt that dreams do not age and I recommend to all act accordingly.
You walked in pilgrimage and you paved a road. May you blessed.”