Israeli president hopes Pope Francis can be a ‘bridge’ for peace

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( Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, where Rivlin praised the pontiff’s ability to bring people together and hoped that he could act as a bridge for Middle East peace.

“I said to the Pope that I see in him a bridge, and asked of him to serve as such in the most difficult of places for mediation, where there no trust exists between the parties,” Rivlin said.

Among the other topics discussed during their meeting were efforts to combat the rise in global anti-Semitism, the financial crisis surrounding Christian schools in Israel, and a joint initiative between Israel’s government and Christian community aimed at developing the area around the site of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan Valley.

“I told the pope that the initiative has the potential to bring together the peoples of the region— Jordanians, Israelis, and Palestinians, and all those of faith—Christians, Muslims, and Jews,” Rivlin said.