He said: “Furthermore, the crescendo of hatred and violence that is affecting various cities in Israel is a serious wound to fraternity and peaceful coexistence among citizens, which will be difficult to heal if there is not an immediate opening to dialogue.”
“I ask myself: where will hatred and revenge lead? Do we really think we will build peace by destroying the other?”
He appealed for calm in the region, urging local leaders and the international community to help secure peace.
“Let us pray unceasingly that Israelis and Palestinians may find the path of dialogue and forgiveness, to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening up, step by step, to a common hope, to a coexistence among brothers,” he said, before reciting a Hail Mary for the conflict’s victims, especially children.
The pope gave his live-streamed Regina Coeli address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where pilgrims stood wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He reflected on the Gospel reading (Mark 16:15-20) for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, which is celebrated on Sunday in Italy and other countries, but on Thursday at the Vatican.
He said: “Usually, as we know, farewell scenes are sad, they give those who remain a feeling of loss, of abandonment; but this does not happen to the disciples. In spite of their separation from the Lord, they are not disconsolate, on the contrary, they are joyful and ready to leave as missionaries in the world.”
Like the disciples, he said, we too should rejoice to see Jesus ascending into heaven because the Ascension completes his mission among us.
Pointing upwards, the pope said emphatically: “He is the first man to enter heaven, because Jesus is man, true man, he is God, true God; our flesh is in heaven and this gives us joy.”
“At the right hand of the Father now sits a human body, for the first time, the body of Jesus, and in this mystery each of us contemplates our future destination. This is not at all an abandonment; Jesus remains forever with the disciples, with us.”