In a Vatican report released on the 25th of April, it was reported that the meeting would take play in Bari and would be an “ecumenical meeting for peace to discuss the dramatic situation of the Middle East that afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith.”
According to the Vatican report, Bari was chosen as the setting for the summit because it represents the “window into the East” and is also the home of the relics of St Nicholas. This is significant because St Nicholas was venerated by the Western and Eastern Christians alike.
Praying for an end to conflict
The conflict in Syria has been of paramount concern to Pope Francis.
In February of this year the Pope spoke out about the ongoing violence saying “the month of February is one of the most violent in seven years of conflict
“In these days, my thoughts have often turned to the beloved and martyred Syria where war has intensified - especially in Eastern Ghouta.
“[There are] hundreds, thousands of civilian victims, children, women, the elderly; hospitals have been struck; people can’t find anything to eat...all of this is inhuman.”
In the Pope’s “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message, he again pleaded for an end to the conflict, describing it as an “extermination”.
Later, on April 15, after his recitation of the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis said he was: “deeply disturbed by the current world situation, in which, despite the instruments available to international community, it struggles to agree on joint action in favour of pear in Syria and other religions of the world.”
As the conflict continues in Syria, Pope Francis has also expressed concern for “those whose bodies have been hurt or exploited”. Read more about what Pope Francis has to say.