Cardinal Krajewski visited with several people on his first day in the Holy Land Cardinal Krajewski visited with several people on his first day in the Holy Land 

Cardinal Krajewski in Holy Land: 'They told me about the hell in Gaza'

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, describes the first day of his mission in the Holy Land, saying he prayed in Bethlehem with several young people from Gaza, including a woman who lost 12 family members due to the Israel-Hamas war.

By Alessandro De Carolis

It takes a big heart to make room for pain and fill it with hope when everything—home, friendship, life—suddenly loses certainty and warmth, and a precariousness full of fear becomes the new normal.

After numerous visits to the war zone in Ukraine, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski has now traveled to the Holy Land to bring Pope Francis' embrace and closeness for Christmas. Since 7 October, the area, including the Gaza Strip, has been plunged into the darkness of war.

Bringing Pope's care to orphanages

The first day of Cardinal Krajewski's papal mission began in Bethlehem, where he arrived at 2 a.m. on Friday and then found himself on his knees in the Basilica of the Nativity early in the morning, immediately beginning the tour of the city with the parish priest of Gaza, Fr. Gabriel Romanelli.

"We went to three orphanages," said the Cardinal in an interview with Vatican News. "There, even newborns taken from the streets are cared for, including two children brought by the nuns just yesterday."

The Cardinal spent some time with them to pray together. "I also left tangible assistance from the Holy Father for them because they live in great hardship."

Afterwards, he stopped for lunch in Bethlehem at the seminary of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where 38 seminarians live and study.

Cardinal Krajewski at an orphanage
Cardinal Krajewski at an orphanage

'A very difficult meeting'

In the afternoon, he held a "very difficult meeting." Cardinal Krajewski speaks of four people, relatively young, who came to talk to him.

They were fortunate enough to leave Gaza before the start of the inferno, though all of their relatives stayed behind.

"One young woman lost 12 family members," he said. "They came to tell how things are, to be able to tell the Holy Father about all the hell that is there. There is a lack of water, a lack of electricity, and the people staying inside the church are almost 600.

Cardinal Krajewski said he prayed together with them, "certainly very saddened but not without hope."

Bethlehem, a single entrance

The Cardinal spent the entire day in the land where Jesus was born and where, today, all movements must be made cautiously and under strict observation.

"We could enter from one side, the only entrance, because Palestinians cannot leave Bethlehem; they have to stay in the city," he recounted.

On Saturday, said Cardinal Krajewski, "we will see where we can go to support the various religious communities and the priests operating in this very difficult situation."

He reported having also met with the Greek-Catholic bishop. "We talked about how we can increase aid."

Since Christmas in the Holy Land this year must be celebrated without lights, the only light that warms and indicates a direction is the light of closeness.

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22 December 2023, 19:14