In both Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Pope Francis offered his home in the Vatican as a place for the encounter of prayer. It was a potentially transformative moment. Now that the event is over, and both presidents have re-iterated their desire for peace, what happens next to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - more so since President Peres completes his term as president of Israel at the end of July? Regional expert and Ekklesia associate Dr Harry Hagopian explores the issues.
The Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land and the Justice and Peace Committee issued a statement about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. It is a highly significant document in the light of recent media attention to these issues, and repeated statements from Baroness Warsi and others. There are serious issues at stake here, but it is important that they are understood properly and in context so that the appropriate solidarity for all oppressed groups can be expressed.
The barbarity of the response to protest by the Syrian regime - bullets, shabihas and tanks that soon graduated to chemical weapons and TNT barrels - also weaponised an equally radical bunch of people who carry with them the cloak of religiosity although they do not care a jot about the future governance of Syria, says regional analyst Dr Harry Hagopian. So where do we go from here?
In the first Middle East Analysis podcast of 2014, regular studio guest Dr Harry Hagopian, a regional expert and Ekklesia associate, looks at the upcoming Geneva 2 meeting about the on-going crisis in Syria, Egypt's constitutional referendum, and other Middle East and North Africa related concerns.