During his address at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the pontiff offered his consolation to the people of Gaza, the entire region and the Christian communities.
The pope pleaded for “an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims” and called for “a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid” in Gaza.”
“How many innocents are being slaughtered in our world! In their mothers’ wombs, in odysseys undertaken in desperation and in search of hope, in the lives of all those little ones whose childhood has been devastated by war. They are the little Jesuses of today,” he added.
Saying that his “heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack” of Oct. 7, Francis reiterated his “urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage”.
The pope also expressed his hope that sincere and persevering dialogue with strong political will and international support can lead to resolving the “Palestinian question”.
Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7, killing at least 20,424 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injuring 54,036 others, according to local health authorities.
Around 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.
The Israeli onslaught has left Gaza in ruins, with half of the coastal territory’s housing damaged or destroyed and nearly 2 million people displaced within the densely-populated enclave amid shortages of food, clean water and medicines.