It is indeed very good news that Pope Francis has met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and labelled him ‘an angel of peace’ shortly after the Vatican announced a treaty to officially recognise the state of Palestine.

It was the first formal bilateral treaty between the two and confirmed the Holy See’s de facto recognition of the Palestinian state since it was granted the status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations in 2012.

In a statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis and Mr Abbas spoke about the peace process with Israel and had expressed the hope that direct contact between Israel and the Palestinians could resume soon.

Pope Francis presented Mr Abbas a medallion representing an angel of peace, telling the Palestinian leader he thought of him as ‘an angel of peace’.

The two will meet again at a ceremony in Saint Peter’s square for the canonisation of Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, founder of the first Catholic congregation in Palestine, and Mariam Baouardy Haddad, who established a Carmelite convent in Bethlehem.

Anne Fairbairn AM