Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin is urging a comprehensive road map for peace in Middle East during meetings between the region's papal nuncio top officials in his office. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said the agenda included an opening address by Cardinal Parolin, an intervention by Israeli nuncio Archbishop Giorgio Lazzarotto, and a report by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. According to Fr. Lombardi, Cardinal Parolin outlined a general scenario of the Middle East and stressed the inspiring principles of the diplomatic action of the Holy See. Cardinal Parolin reportedly said that peace must be sought through a “regional and comprehensive solution,” which takes in consideration the interests of each party and which is not pushed by unilateral choices. The Secretary of State has also underscored that religious leaders have an important role in fostering the inter-religious dialogue and combating the fundamentalism at the basis of terrorism. Fr. Lombardi stressed that “for what concerns the political situation in the Middle East and more in general relationship with countries with a majority of Muslim population, the Holy See has always set as primary issues the protection and respect of Christians and other minority groups as full citizen, and the respect of human rights, and particularly the right to religious freedom.” Archbishop Lazzarotto reported about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and on the presence of Christians in the Holy See. The nuncio has reportedly stressed that the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a central issue for the peace in the Middle East. Archbishop Lazzarotto said that “hopes of peace had opened with Pope Francis pilgrimage to Holy Land and the following meeting for the prayer in Middle East in the Vatican,” but “the recent conflict in Gaza” signals that “the situation is grave and difficult,” Fr. Lombardi said. The archbishop also advocated for a durable peace respectful of the rights of both sides, Israel and Palestine. Bishop Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, then reported about the relations between the Catholic Church and other Christian confessions in the Middle East.
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