Pope Francis visits the Middle East; APN urges "Don't miss this opportunity to advocate for peace."

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This weekend, Pope Francis will be visiting the Middle East on a historic trip. Many people the world over have been impressed by the humility of this pope, by his loving mien, and his ethical stances. We also are encouraged by his friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud - leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities in Argentina - and his determination to demonstrate the normalcy of interfaith friendship.

We have seen his many gestures of reconciliation, love and humility. This weekend in the Middle East will be an opportunity to use his leadership – and his voice - to build on those gestures.

Like Jews and Muslims, Christians, including Catholics, revere this land as holy.  It is because of this reverence for the land that he must do all in his power to help Israelis and Palestinians - of whatever faith - achieve peace. It is imperative that the Pope not only speak gently and with love, but also speak clearly and firmly. We urge Pope Francis not to miss this opportunity to  advocate for peace among the people of Christianity’s sister religions.