Mahmoud Abbas meets Pope Francis in Italy, urges unity with Christians

Published May 16th, 2015 - 02:21 GMT

Ahead of Pope Francis' canonization of two Ottoman-era Palestinian nuns in St. Peter’s Square, President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday praised Palestinian Christians for their steadfastness and effective contribution to building the Palestinian nation.

“On this holy occasion we would like to express appreciation to our Palestinian Christian brothers for their steadfastness and effective contribution to building the Palestinian nation, and we call upon them to stay with us and not to be easily swept by the tide of migration,” Abbas stated.

The PA leader called on Palestinian Christians to “stay with us and enjoy the rights of full and equal citizenship and bear with us the difficulties of life until we achieve liberty, sovereignty and human dignity.”

Abbas made these remarks as part of an official statement he issued on the occasion of the canonization of two Ottoman-era Palestinian nuns; Mariam Baouardy Haddad from Ibillin village in the Galilee and Marie Alphonsine (Sultana Daniel) Ghattas from Jerusalem, to be held Sunday in the Vatican.

Abbas arrived in Italy on Thursday on a three-day official visit to Italy, where he was set attend the canonization of two Palestinian nuns.

On Friday, Abbas met with Italian President Sergio Mattrella and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. He also met on Saturday with Pope Francis at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, where the flag of Palestine was raised for the first time. During his meeting with the pontiff, Abbas discussed mutual historical and strong friendly relations.

Abbas’ visit comes as the Holy See announced that preparations to sign its first treaty that formally recognizes the State of Palestine in what the Palestinian Foreign Ministry responded would “serves the interest of peace and stability, reinforces peaceful coexistence and builds bridges among different cultures, civilizations and religions.”

Hailing the Holy See’s recognition of the State of Palestine, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi stated that this recognition “sends a message to all people of conscience that the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, formal recognition, freedom, and statehood.”

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