CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On the same day Pope Francis prays for peace with President Mahmoud Abbas, of Palestine, and President Shimon Peres, of Israel, in Rome this weekend, Monsignor Edward Sadie of Sacred Heart Basilica will host Imam Ehteshamul Haque, of the Islamic Association of West Virginia, and Rabbi Victor Urecki, of B’Nai Jacob Synagogue, in downtown Charleston to show support for interreligious peace efforts.
“I don’t know if it had been planned or not, but the pope decided to invite each one of them to Rome so they could come together and pray for peace,” Sadie said. “Peace in the world, but primarily peace in the Holy Land, because right there in the Holy Land … Christians, Jews and Muslims are all dying.”
Francis invited the two leaders to Rome after his trip to the Holy Land at the end of May. That trip included an unscheduled stop at the wall that divides the city of Bethlehem from the Palestinian West Bank territory, where Francis was photographed praying during the second day of his trip.
The joint prayer for peace comes shortly after the collapse of the most recent, months-long U.S.-led peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
The local religious leaders will come together at Sacred Heart between 2 and 2:45 p.m. before a tapestry depicting a Scripture from Genesis where Abraham welcomes three strangers to share a meal and pray individually.
Sadie said that several years ago, religious leaders from the three faiths came together to have the tapestry blessed by Rome’s representative for interreligious dialogue.
“I wanted something that would bring us together,” Sadie said. “We are blessed here in Charleston with good interreligious relations. The rabbi, imam and I cooperate quite often together.”
After the 45 minutes of individual prayer, which is open to the public, each religious leader will lead the group in a prayer for peace.
Haque could not be reached for comment this week.
Urecki traveled to Israel with his wife, Marilyn, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and his wife, Gayle at the end of May.
On his Facebook page, Urecki posted that the trip was “a truly rare opportunity to engage in robust and open discussions with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.”
Sadie recalled as a young child his father, who is from Syria, telling him that Christians, Jews and Muslims all lived in peace together in Syria.
“We are all different in our beliefs, but what does draw us together is the fact that we all recognize Abraham as the father of monotheism,” Sadie said.
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