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Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Vatican City, 14 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, met with John Kerry, secretary of State of the U.S.A. During the meeting, which focused on themes linked to foreign policy, the Parties discussed the peace process in the Middle East, especially the situation in Syria and the preparations for the Geneva II Middle East Peace Conference, and negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

The meeting, which lasted an hour and forty minutes, was also attended by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, and Kenneth F. Hackett, ambassador of the United States to the Holy See. Other issues considered during the meeting were the situation in Africa, especially South Sudan, and matters of special interest to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops such as healthcare reform.


Vatican City, 14 January 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Academy for Sciences held a workshop in the Vatican yesterday on the civil war in Syria, in which an appeal was made for an immediate end to violence and the commencement of reconstruction and dialogue between the various communities within the country. The meeting, which took place a week before the upcoming Geneva Peace Conference, was inaugurated by the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

In a communique published this morning, hope is expressed that the Geneva II Middle East Peace Conference will enable “the people of Syria, the region and the world to conceive of a new beginning, to put an end to the violence that has claimed over 130,000 lives and left a beautiful country in ruin and chaos”.

According to the international experts who participated in the workshop, the first step is a ceasefire and an end to violence: “all the combatants must lay down their arms; all foreign powers must adopt immediate measures to stop the flow of arms and their financing”.

“The Holy See is committed to supporting all religious faiths and communities in Syria, to reach new understanding and a meaningful restoration of trust, after years of violence between communities”, continues the communique. Therefore, dialogue must focus on “urgent needs of spiritual and communitarian reconstruction”.

The participants in the conference also expressed their concern for the situation of millions of Syrian refugees who “suffer extreme and potentially deadly deprivations in terms of food, healthcare, electricity, telecommunications, transport and other basic human needs”.


Vatican City, 14 January 2014 (VIS) – On 16 January Italy celebrates its 18th Annual Day for the furthering and development of dialogue between Catholics and Jews. In the light of this a Conference has been organised by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, to be held at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Rabbi Skorka is rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary of Buenos Aires, and is the co-author, with Pope Francis, of the book “El cielo y la terra”, the result of a number of conversations on themes fundamental to human life and on the possibility of shared ethics.

The conference considers “Jewish-Catholic dialogue, 50 years after 'Nostra Aetate'. A Latin-American perspective”, and will be presided over by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.


Vatican City, 14 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy.

- His Grace Anthony Palmer, Bishop and International Ecumenical Officer of Evangelical Episcopal Churches.

- Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

- Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”.

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