Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli on Sunday, Pope Francis denounced violence in the Holy Land, warning that the conflict could deteriorate “in a spiral of death and destruction.”
After seven days of fighting, almost two hundred people have been killed in Gaza, with more than 1200 wounded, according to Palestinian sources. In Israel, rocket strikes from Gaza have reportedly killed ten people.
The Pope lamented the numerous dead and wounded, including scores of women and children. The death of children, especially, is “terrible and unacceptable,” and “a sign that people do not want to build the future, but to destroy it.”
He said it will be difficult to heal the “grave wound to fraternity and peaceful coexistence among citizens” if the warring parties do not open negotiations. “I ask myself, where do hatred and vengeance lead? Do we imagine that we can build peace by destroying the ‘other’?”
Quoting the Document on Human Fraternity he signed in 2019 with Sunni Muslim leader Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Pope Francis appealed for calm “in the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.”
He called on political and military leaders in Israel and Palestine “to put and end to the clash of arms and travel the ways of peace, also with the help of the international community.”
Fighting continued Sunday, however, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that military action would continue “with full force.” Hamas forces in Gaza continued to launch rockets against targets in southern Israel.
At a meeting of the UN Security Council, UN Secretary General António Guterres said the violence was “utterly appalling” and called for an immediate end to the fighting. Guterres issued a statement Friday deploring the “great suffering and destruction” caused by the ongoing military escalation, and called then on “all parties to immediately cease the fighting in Gaza and Israel.”
On Sunday, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray “incessantly” that Palestinians and Israelis “might find the road of dialogue and forgiveness and be patient builders of peace and justice – opening themselves, step by step, to a common hope, and coexistence among brothers.”
At the conclusion of the Regina Coeli, he invited them to join him in praying for peace “to the Queen of peace” and led them in the recitation of a Hail Mary for the victims of the conflict, “especially the children.”