Cardinal Pizzaballa brings hope, solidarity and support into Gaza

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem enters the besieged Gaza Strip bringing the closeness of the Church to the people and offering a message of solidarity and support.

By Linda Bordoni

Gaza City’s Holy Family Church on Thursday received the warmth, solidarity and message of hope of the Church in the person of His Beatitude Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa who was able to enter the besieged Strip for the first time since 7 October.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem was accompanied by Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, Grand Hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and by Fr. Gabriele Romanelli, parish priest of Gaza and a small delegation.

Hope, solidarity, support

According to a statement released by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, “they met the suffering population to encourage them and to deliver a message of hope, solidarity, and support.”

“His Beatitude presided at Mass in the parish church with the local community,” it added, noting that during his stay, Cardinal Pizzaballa also paid a courtesy visit to the St. Porphyrius Orthodox parish.

According to the statement, the Patriarch’s pastoral visit to the Gaza parish is also the first stage of a joint humanitarian mission of the Latin Patriarchate and the Sovereign Order of Malta, in collaboration with Malteser International and other partners, aiming at the delivery of life-saving food and medical help to the population in Gaza.

In a video message released by the Patriarchate, Cardinal Pizzaballa said ‘It has been a long time since I had the desire to come and see them [the Christian community in Gaza], to meet them. Finally I have this opportunity and I am very happy about it."

He explained that the purpose of the visit is "first of all to be with them, to embrace and support them, to verify their conditions, to try to understand what can be done to improve them, and to help them in every possible way".

The Cardinal then appealed to all Christians to join ‘the Christian community of Gaza in prayer’.

Cardinal Pizzaballa's video message released by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Pope’s constant concern

Pope Francis has expressed his constant concern for the Holy Family Catholic parish in Gaza, keeping in contact with the parish priest, Fr Gabriel Romanelli, and the associate pastor, Fr Youssef Assad.

Ever since the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas militants has been taking place in the enclave, the Pope has made almost daily telephone calls to the parish to inquire about the situation and offer words of hope and spiritual closeness.

The Holy Family Parish

The Holy Family Parish, served by priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, is the only Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip.

As is the case throughout Gaza, the parish faces a shortage of food, water and medicine, and a lack of heating in harsh winter temperatures.

Nonetheless, the parish complex, which includes a school, has continued to shelter hundreds of people who have lost everything in the war.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

16 May 2024, 14:51