On Oct. 7, Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, launched thousands of rockets into Israel while its militants breached the border and invaded towns, killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.
Some of the hostages have since been released or saved by the Israelis, and the United Nations puts the present number of hostages at 240.
Days after the attack, the Holy Father called for the hostages to be released and has consistently repeated that request.
“I hope that all avenues will be followed so that the conflict can absolutely be avoided, the wounded can be helped, and aid can reach the population of Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is very serious. Release the hostages immediately. Among them there are also many children; may they return to their families!” the pope said during his Nov. 5 Angelus address.
The Holy Father has since met with several Jewish leaders since the conflict began including the president of the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of European Rabbis.
In his meeting with the rabbis, Pope Francis said he began to feel ill and distributed his prepared remarks to them instead of speaking.
In the Holy Father’s prepared remarks, he wrote his “first thought and prayer goes, above all else, to everything that has happened in the last few weeks.”
“Yet again violence and war have erupted in that land blessed by the Most High, which seems continually assailed by the vileness of hatred and the deadly clash of weapons,” the speech continued. “The spread of antisemitic demonstrations, which I strongly condemn, is also of great concern.”
“In this time in which we are witnessing violence and destruction,” the remarks said, “we believers are called to build fraternity and open paths of reconciliation for all and before all, in the name of the Almighty who, as another prophet says, has ‘plans for welfare and not for evil’ (Jer 29:11). Not weapons, not terrorism, not war, but compassion, justice, and dialogue are the fitting means for building peace.”
Joseph Bukuras is a staff writer at the Catholic News Agency. Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Catholic University of America. He has interned in the U.S. House of Representatives, on a U.S. Senate campaign, in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives, and at the Susan B. Anthony List. He is based out of the Boston area