Vatican signs agreement with Palestine, calls for two-state solution

VATICAN CITY -- The Holy See and Palestine have signed a historic agreement that supports a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land, based on the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine.

The two parties signed the "Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine" at the Vatican June 26. The accord, which includes a preamble and 32 articles, focuses mostly on the status and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine. It assures the Church "juridical recognition" and "guarantees" for its work and institutions in Palestine.

Faith is expressed in charity, unity, pope says at canonization Mass

Devotees presented a relic of new St. Mary of Jesus Crucified at the canonization Mass for four new saints celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 17. The pope canonized four 19th-century nuns: Marie-Alphonsine and Mary of Jesus Crucified, both from historic Palestine; Jeanne Emilie De Villeneuve from France; and Maria Cristina Brando from Italy.

VATICAN CITY -- Declaring four 19th-century women religious saints, Pope Francis said they are models for all Christians of how faith, nourished in prayer, is expressed concretely in acts of charity and the promotion of unity.

The new saints, proclaimed at a Mass May 17 in St. Peter's Square, included two Palestinians -- Sts. Marie-Alphonsine, founder of the Rosary Sisters, and Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Melkite Carmelite -- as well as French St. Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve and Italian St. Maria Cristina Brando.

Vatican-Palestine accord supports 'two-state' solution

VATICAN CITY -- Vatican and Palestinian representatives have finalized the text of a formal agreement recognizing freedom of religion in the "State of Palestine" and outlining the rights and obligations of the Catholic Church, its agencies and its personnel in the territory.

Without fanfare, the Vatican has been referring to the "State of Palestine" at least since January 2013. The "Annuario Pontificio," the Vatican's official yearbook, lists a diplomatic relationship with the "State of Palestine."

Pope invites Israeli, Palestinian leaders to Rome to pray for peace

BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- Pope Francis invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to pray together at the Vatican for peace between their nations.

The pope made the announcement May 25, after praying the "Regina Coeli" at the end of Mass in Bethlehem's Manger Square.

Earlier in the day, he made an unscheduled stop to pray before a controversial separation wall, built by Israel over Palestinian protests, between its territory and the West Bank.

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