Pope Francis during a prayer for peace, at Saint Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, in Rome, October 27, 2023. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP
In front of the baldachin sculpted by Bernini, in the center of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, an expanse of red caps for the cardinals and purple for the bishops stretches as far as the eye can see. The most important building in Catholicism is full this Friday, October 27 evening. Prelates, members of the curia and the diplomatic corps near the Holy See as well as a number of faithful made the trip to pray for peace in the “holy land”, while at the same time, Israeli bombings intensified in the northern Gaza. The terrorist attack of October 7 perpetrated by Hamas and the war that followed hit a busy Roman agenda with the plenary assembly of the “synod on synodality”, this large gathering which must reflect on the future of Catholic Church.
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Looking serious, the Pope, sitting in white under the statue of Francis de Paula, who has continued to increase calls for peace, described the moment – without ever mentioning the ongoing conflict in the Middle East – as “dark hour”.
The human family “has lost the path to peace”
“Now, Mother, take the initiative once again for us, in these times torn by conflicts and devastated by weapons,” called the prelate in his prayer, imploring the Virgin. The human family “has lost the path to peace,” he continued. Shake the souls of those who are trapped in hatred, convert those who fuel and fuel conflicts. Dries the tears of children, helps those who are alone and elderly, supports the wounded and sick. »
The day before, the Argentine pontiff spoke by telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During this interview, carried out at the request of Ankara, Francis expressed his hope “that the establishment of two defined states and a special status for the city of Jerusalem can be achieved”. The Pope thus recalled the position he has held since the beginning of his pontificate, namely the need, according to him, for the two States to coexist.
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Friday morning, it was Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, who expressed this same vision to journalists. For him, it is “the only viable solution that can ensure a future of peace and serene proximity, through direct dialogue between the two parties”. Then he added: “We think of the children who were kidnapped by Hamas, but also of the many children who die under the bombs in Gaza. The call is above all for them, to take into account their innocence, their future. » The Secretary of State, equivalent to a Prime Minister, also recalled “the call for the release of the hostages” and the end of “the humanitarian crisis in Gaza”, “two axes on which the action of the Holy See.”
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