President Shimon Peres Will Hold an Official Reception
for Pope Benedict XVI on May 11th With the Theme
„Peace Between Religions, Peace Between Peoples”
On Monday, May 11th, President Shimon Peres will hold an official, celebratory reception for Pope Benedict XVI with the participation of 700 guests representing the various communities and sectors of Israel. Among the guests who have been invited to take part in the ceremonies are Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders, Righteous Among the Nations, Israeli winners of the Nobel Prize, artists and heads of theaters, representatives of bereaved families and families of MIAs, Holocaust survivors, youth movement and student council representatives from throughout Israel, and members of the Israeli diplomatic corps.
The Pope will arrive at the President’s Residence at 16:05 and will be received by the President on a red carpet. Two children, a Christian and a Jew from Nazareth and Upper Nazareth, respectively, will present the Pope with a basket of fruit and will welcome him in English in Hebrew. The Pope will also be presented with the „Seven Species” of plants named in the Bible and other Israeli-made produce, including a new strand of wheat developed by the Volcani Center and named Benedict XVI after the Pope.
After the Pope enters the President’s Residence, the two will hold a working political meeting in the conference room. During the meeting, President Peres is expected to raise the strengthening of ties between Israel and the Vatican, the advancement of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and the readiness of the people of Israel to make peace, and he will ask the Pope to increase his involvement in the making of peace in the Middle East. He will note that there is a special role for religious leaders in bringing about peace and breaking the connections between religion and terror.
Immediately following the meeting, there will be a tree-planting ceremony for a tree of peace – an olive tree in the garden of the President’s Residence, after which will begin the aforementioned ceremony with 700 representatives of all different walks of life in Israel.
At the celebratory reception, the Pope and President Peres will deliver speeches. This will be followed by an artistic event with the participation of Children’s Voices for Peace, a choir from the diverse community of Jaffa consisting of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian children who will sing the song „Hallelujah.”
After the event, President Peres will accompany the Pope on his visit to Yad VaShem. The Director-General of the President’s Office, Efrat Duvdevani, is in charge of the preparations for the Pope’s visit at the President’s Residence, and she notes that, „It is a great honor for the State of Israel to host His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the President’s Residence, and we will work in an unprecedented fashion in order to receive the Pope with appropriate honor and to faithfully represent the State of Israel and the message of peace between religions and peoples.”