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Vatican calls for peace in Holy Land, offers to mediate between Hamas and Israel

A cross atop the seminary in Beit Jala, Palestine. / Aid to the Church in Need.

CNA Staff, Oct 13, 2023 / 12:20 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, condemned Hamas’ Saturday terrorist attacks against Israel, called for peace in the Holy Land, and said the Vatican is ready to help mediate a peace agreement, in an interview published by Vatican News Friday.

Parolin told Vatican News that the Hamas attacks were “inhuman,” and that the Holy See expresses “complete and firm condemnation.” 

“We express our solidarity with the affected families, the vast majority of whom are Jewish,” he said. “We pray for them, for those still in shock, for the wounded.”

He also expressed the Vatican’s concern for the civilians in Gaza and the “men, women, children, and the elderly held hostage.”

“It is necessary,” Parolin said, “to regain a sense of reason, abandon the blind logic of hatred, and reject violence as a solution. It is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but even legitimate defense must respect the parameter of proportionality.”

Called for release of hostages

Parolin said that the Vatican’s chief concern amid the conflict is “the release of Israeli hostages and the protection of innocent lives in Gaza.”  

He posited that these two concerns are a matter of “justice.” 

“It is just — indeed, essential — that in this conflict, as in any other, humanitarian law be fully respected,” he said. 

“It is just for the hostages to be returned immediately, even those held by Hamas since previous conflicts,” Parolin said, adding that it is also “just that in Israel’s legitimate defense, the lives of Palestinian civilians living in Gaza should not be endangered.” 

Holy See offers to help mediate peace

“I do not know how much room for dialogue there can be between Israel and the Hamas militia,” Parolin said. “But if there is — and we hope there is — it should be pursued immediately and without delay.”

He said that the Holy See is “ready for any necessary mediation.”

“The greatest possible justice in the Holy Land,” Parolin claimed, “is the two-state solution, which would allow Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side in peace and security, meeting the aspirations of the majority.”

“However, any mediation to end the conflict must take into account a series of elements that make the issue very complex and articulated, such as the issue of Israeli settlements, security, and the issue of the city of Jerusalem,” he said.

“A solution can be found in direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, encouraged and supported by the international community, even though it will be more difficult now,” Parolin said.

Christians in the Holy Land

Parolin also expressed special concern for the Christians in Israel and in the Gaza Strip. 

“Christians are an essential part of the land where Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again,” he said. “No one can imagine Palestine or Israel without a Christian presence, which has been there from the beginning and will be there forever.”

He mentioned the small Catholic community in Gaza, many of whom have taken shelter in the enclave’s sole Catholic church Holy Family Parish. 

“It is true that the Catholic community in Gaza, about 150 families, is suffering immensely,” he noted, adding that “when one member suffers, the whole Church suffers, and so we all suffer.”

Parolin concluded by calling for prayer for all those trapped in the conflict.

“Let us pray for the Israelis; let us pray for the Palestinians; let us pray for Christians, Jews, and Muslims,” he said.

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