pope francis

How social media changes our culture and our very lives is something many are researching today. A recent study praised Canada for their online diplomacy and also noted the sheer influence available online to Pope Francis.

Ulrike al-Khamis has outdone herself. In a project that began six years ago, the art historian from Germany was tasked with bringing the extensive collections of the Emir of Sharjah into shape when the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization was renovated and re-opened. The exhibition she is now presenting in a sparkling domed building almost the size of a soccer field has exceeded expectations."It is the first collaboration of the Vatican with an Arab country," said al-Khamis.

The recent meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Vatican, as well as the upcoming trip to Albania, shows a Pope putting the Catholic Church firmly back on the global political stage — a reboot of the John Paul II years.

Sunday’s gathering of the pope, Peres and Abbas saw delegations of Rabbis (mostly Israeli) and Muslim Imams (mostly Palestinian) sitting in one section of the spacious Vatican garden while high ranking Catholic clergy sat in one long line in another side of the garden.  Facing them, at some distance, to the left and right of the pope, were Abbas and Peres – all three in stately chairs spaced almost embarrassingly well apart.

Israeli and Palestinian presidents meet in an unprecedented prayer meeting with Pope Francis on Sunday, a gesture he hopes will “re-create a desire, a possibility” of eventually re-launching the Middle East’s stalled peace process.

From the earliest days of his papacy, when he walked slowly into a grand reception hall in the Apostolic Palace for his first meeting with a curious diplomatic corps, Pope Francis has promoted a fairly conventional foreign policy agenda: fight poverty, pursue peace, bridge ecumenical or interreligious divisions and protect the environment. 

Pope Francis passes Middle East diplomacy test

Watch CBS' latest story on Pope Francis' 3-day trip to the Middle East, a strong Faith Diplomacy initiative that attempts to stabilize the position of the Christian population in the region.