Pope Francis launched an appeal for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, on the sidelines of his catechesis on October 11, 2023. “I pray for the families who saw a day of celebration turn into a day of mourning” , he said. “I demand that the hostages be released immediately.”
Pope Francis launched an appeal for the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on the sidelines of his catechesis delivered in Saint Peter’s Square, October 11, 2023. If he recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself , he said he was “very concerned about the total siege in which the Palestinians are living in Gaza”. It is with “pain and apprehension” that Pope Francis continues to follow what has been happening in Israel and Palestine since October 7 . “So many people killed and others injured,” he lamented as the offensive of unprecedented scale by Hamas Islamists against Israel caused the death of at least 1,200 people on the Israeli side. There are at least 950 deaths on the Palestinian side. In retaliation for the surprise attack, Israel launched bombings on the Gaza Strip, where 2.3 million Palestinians live.
“I pray for the families who have seen a day of celebration turn into a day of mourning. I ask that the hostages be released immediately,” demanded Pope Francis. The Hamas raid on Israeli territory was launched in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Simcha Torah. Dozens of kidnappings took place. In his message, Pope Francis explicitly recognized “the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves.” However, he immediately added that he was “very concerned about the total siege in which Palestinians are living in Gaza.” On this strip of land there are “many innocent victims”, he insisted.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced a “complete siege” of Gaza on Monday. “No electricity, no water, no gas, everything is closed,” he said, before adding: “We are fighting animals and we act accordingly.”
As he did on Sunday during the Angelus , the head of the Catholic Church condemned “terrorism and extremism” which “fuel hatred, violence, revenge” and do not make it possible to find a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. “The Middle East does not need war but peace; of a peace built on justice, on dialogue and on the courage of fraternity”, he concluded, before taking a long time of silence in front of the thousands of faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.
The Pope called the priest of Gaza
Since the start of the crisis, Pope Francis has twice telephoned the parish priest of Gaza, Father Gabriel Romanelli. “He showed his closeness and his prayers and we thanked him for the call for a ceasefire and against all forms of violence, terrorism and against all war,” the priest told Vatican Radio – Vatican News .
The priest, who is currently in Bethlehem, confided that he had not yet reported any deaths in the Christian community of Gaza. His parish currently hosts 150 people who have lost their homes or are seeking shelter from bombings. In a second telephone call, the Pope again sought to know “how the people and the parish were doing, and gave his blessing so that everyone would experience the closeness of the Church.”