Pope Francis continues to call Gaza parishioners every day
By Roberto Cetera and Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis continues to be in contact, every day, with the Catholic community at Gaza’s Church of the Holy Family, that is currently offering shelter to some 700 Palestinians who have lost their homes in the current war between Hamas and Israel.
Following the attacks perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October in which 1,400 people were killed and 200 others kidnapped, Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Hamas infrastructure in Gaza have killed more than 10,000 people, including over 4,100 children. Tens of thousands have been displaced, and as Father Gabriele says in an interview with Vatican Media, there is no safe place in Gaza “neither in the North nor in the South.”
Fr Gabriele, who was in Jerusalem at the time of the Hamas attacks has been unable to enter Gaza to be physically with his flock, but he says he speaks to them every day if possible.
“Every day we connect several times,” he adds although “unfortunately communications have been cut off,” leaving the community isolated, “but now they have resumed.”
The parish priest says his parishioners are as well “as one can be in a time of war, in a place of war, but the place they feel safest is with Jesus.”
The closeness of Jesus and of the Church
They know, he continues, “that there is no safe place in all the Gaza Strip, neither in the North nor in the South, but they feel the presence of Jesus, the closeness of Jesus and of the whole church.”
Fr Gabriele reiterates their gratitude to the Pope, whom he says “calls them every day, to say ‘hello’, to ask how they are doing and to impart his blessing.”
Appeal for prayers and efforts for peace
Above all, Fr Gabriele says, they pray and they ask that we continue to pray for peace.
“They have a Mass in the morning, one in the afternoon, the constant recitation of the Rosary” in different groups and with some of the 700 refugees who are sheltered in the Church of the Holy Family.
Concluding, the priest says their appeal goes out to the whole world to aid efforts for peace:
That those who have a voice - diplomats, politicians, journalists, people of good will, men and women throughout the world - not only pray but also work for peace.
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