Pope recreates the 2014 Mideast peace prayer in Vatican Gardens to beg for an end to Gaza conflict

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis gathered the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors to the Vatican Gardens on Friday to pray for an end to the war in Gaza, marking the 10th anniversary of a similar encounter with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents with a new appeal for peace.

“Every day I pray that this war will finally end,” Francis told the small gathering, which included around two-dozen cardinals and the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.

Among them were Israeli Ambassador Raphael Schutz and Palestinian Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, as well as representatives of Italy's Jewish and Muslim communities.

The event recreated the first such encounter Francis hosted in the gardens this time 10 years ago, when he welcomed Israel’s then-President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

At the time, a round of U.S.-mediated peace talks had stalled. But Francis told the two presidents that he hoped their summit would mark “a new journey” toward peace. Then as now, Francis said too many children had been killed by war, and he begged for both sides to agree to a cease-fire in Gaza and the immediate return of hostages to Israel.

“All this suffering, the brutality of war, the violence it unleashes and the hatred it sows even among future generations should convince us all that every war leaves our world worse than it was before,” he said.

Francis has tried to toe a balanced line on Gaza after initially angering Israel with comments that were perceived of as being supportive of the Palestinians. He has since made sure to also mention Israel's suffering and call for the return of hostages taken Oct. 7 when he refers to the war.