The Pope Named Two New Saints — & Made A Political Statement

Photo: AHMAD GHARABLI/Getty Images.
Pope Francis made history again this weekend when he canonized two Palestinian Arab nuns and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It may seem mundane (a religious leader and a political leader sitting down isn't usually huge news), but the Vatican is also set to sign a historic treaty with Palestine. On Sunday, Francis canonized two nuns who lived during the 19th century, and the day before, he met for 20 minutes with Abbas, whom he reportedy called an "angel of peace." Peace talks between Israel and Palestine have broken down repeatedly over the years, and Israeli authorities criticized the meeting and the new treaty saying it "does not further the peace process," The Guardian reports. Since he took power in 2013, the Pope has spoken out about economic justice, climate change, and capitalism, and he's already had a hand in helping Cuba and the U.S. thaw relations, so it's not surprising that he's weighing in on the long-running conflict in the Middle East. And, while he hasn't changed the official position on social issues like abortion and homosexuality, he has shifted to a more tolerant tone and even set those questions aside in favor of tackling poverty and global conflict.  Abbas said that Francis' action represents his country's "determination to build a sovereign, independent, and free Palestine based on the principles of equal citizenship and the values of spirituality and sublime humanity," CNN reported. "Palestine is not a land of war; it is rather a land of sanctity and virtue, as God intended it to be." But, if this treaty is a step forward in the peace process, it's a tiny one that hasn't resonated with one half of the ongoing conflict. Israeli settlers reportedly chopped down hundreds of olive tress that belonged to Palestinian villagers on the same day that the nuns were canonized. The Pope is popular enough that his support might sway public opinion, but it's going to take more than opinion to deal with this humanitarian crisis.

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