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Pope: Vatican Officials Balked at Mideast Peace Prayer

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says 99 percent of Vatican officials initially opposed his idea of bringing the Israeli and Palestinian presidents together for a prayer summit, but eventually they came around.

Pope Francis is flanked by Israel’s President Shimon Peres, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during an evening of peace prayers in the Vatican gardens, Sunday, June 8, 2014.(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Francis hosted Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas on the lawn of the Vatican gardens on June 8 for an evening of Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers, just weeks after the latest round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks collapsed. The meeting was never aimed at restarting official talks, but merely to serve as a potent symbol of mutual coexistence and respect.

In an interview published Friday with the Barcelona newspaper “La Vanguardia,” Francis acknowledged the idea was completely novel and wasn’t easy to pull off. But he said the purely religious act had one aim: “to open a window to the world.”

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