Hours before he convened an unprecedented Vatican prayer service for peace in the Middle East, Pope Francis told a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square that “a church that doesn’t have the capacity to surprise . . . is a dying church.”
By that standard, Francis showed that Catholicism on his watch is alive and kicking by delivering one of the greatest surprises of his papacy ”” a peace summit that is likely to have no immediate effect whatsoever on the Middle East peace process, but that yet still managed to feel like a historic turning point.
In truth, going into Sunday’s prayer with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres, neither the pope nor his advisers was expecting a miracle.