The Christian population in Palestine is in steady decline, and in Gaza, the situation is even more precarious.
Rioting in the quiet town of Cana was a symptom of the dangerous level ethnic and religious tensions have reached in the Holy Land.
NCR Today: A straightforward, undisputed analysis of offenses in the conflict, whether by Hamas or Israel, will probably be hard to come by. But the U.N. is going to try.
With the Gaza cease-fire talks in Egypt stalled again, efforts have shifted to the United Nations and a possible Security Council resolution. France, Germany and Britain have circulated elements of such a resolution with the critical support of the United States.
My partner in this series of sociopolitical blog posts is Ra'fat Aldajani, a Palestinian-American who represents the majority Palestinian view. I sat with Ra'fat to probe his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. -- Drew Christiansen
Christiansen: Tell me a little more about your family and Palestinian identity.
As Israel continued its ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, Pope Francis urged Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the spiraling conflict.
The pontiff telephoned the two leaders Friday to express "his very serious concerns" only six weeks after both joined him at the Vatican for a historic prayer meeting.
Francis said he was concerned about the "climate of growing hostility, hatred and suffering" that was claiming many victims, resulting in "a serious humanitarian emergency," the Vatican said in a statement.
Praying for peace is never a useless exercise -- it keeps evil at bay and helps people not give in to violence, Pope Francis said.
In response to "tragic events" unfolding in the Middle East in early July, the pope delivered "a heartfelt appeal to continue to pray with persistence for peace in the Holy Land."
Pope Francis called on the world's Christians to pray with him for peace in the Middle East, help convince governments to come to the aid of refugees and pray for Christian unity.
While peace is a gift from God, it is also built out of the day-to-day handiwork of individuals: true "artisans of peace," who are capable of crafting fraternity and reconciliation with people of all cultures and religions, he said during his general audience Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.
Some reports said the leaders would meet as early as June 6, but the Vatican spokesman said "this great initiative" needs time to come together.
Pope Francis renewed his call for an end to war and terror as he finished his three-day journey to the Middle East with a marathon of meetings.