Pope calls for an immediate stop to violence in the Holy Land
At the Angelus, Pope Francis issues an appeal after blood is shed in Jenin and outside a synagogue in Jerusalem. Speaking about the blockade of the Lachin corridor in the South Caucasus, he calls for “peaceful solutions for the good of the people.” The pontiff also urges the faithful to pray for his upcoming trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, countries also marked by serious conflicts,
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In today’s Angelus, Pope Francis issued a strong appeal for peace in many wounded regions of the world before the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square.
The plea follows the latest wave of violence in Palestine and Israel, but also the "inhumane conditions" faced by the Armenian civilian population in the South Caucasus caused by the blockade of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan, which is now in its 50th day.
The pontiff also spoke about the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, the two African countries that he will visit this week, as well as war-torn Ukraine.
On the Sunday when Francis welcomed the caravan of peace organised by Rome’s Azione Cattolica youth, the latest news from the Holy Land led him to focus on the fresh bloodshed.
The pontiff expressly referred to the 10 Palestinians, including a woman, killed on Thursday during Israeli counterterrorism operation in Palestine and the seven Israeli Jews killed Friday night by a Palestinian and three others injured while leaving a synagogue near Jerusalem.
"The spiral of death that increases day after day does nothing other than close the few glimpses of trust that exist between the two peoples,” he said.
“From the beginning of the year, dozens of Palestinians have been killed during firefights with the Israeli army. I appeal to the two governments and to the international community so that, immediately and without delay, other paths might be found that include dialogue and a sincere search for peace. Brothers and sisters, let us pray for this.”
The pope put again the spotlight on the serious situation in the Lachin corridor in the South Caucasus, on the region of Nagorno Karabakh claimed by both Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has been blockaded for 50 days, with very serious suffering for the civilian population.
“I am near to all those who, in the dead of winter, are forced to cope with these inhumane conditions,” he said. “Every effort must be made on the international level to find peaceful solutions for the good of the people.”
The pontiff also addressed youth from Rome’s Azione Cattolica, “thinking of the war-torn Ukraine, our commitment and our prayer for peace must be even stronger.”
In announcing his trip to Africa, the pontiff urged the faithful to accompany him in prayer. His visit, which starts on Tuesday, will take him to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, two countries also deeply marked by conflicts..
At the Angelus, Francis mentioned that today is World Leprosy Day, a date chosen by Raoul Follereau, to raise public awareness about leprosy or Hansen's Disease.
"Unfortunately,” Francis said, “the stigma associated with this disease continues to cause serious violations of human rights in various parts of the world. I express my closeness to those who suffer from it and I encourage the commitment toward the complete integration of these brothers and sisters.”
In his commentary on the Gospel of the Beatitudes before the Angelus, the pope focused on the beatitude of the poor in spirit “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).
“Those who are poor in spirit treasure what they receive. Therefore, they desire that no gift should go to waste,” Francis noted, pointing to three challenges: not wasting the gift that we are, not wasting the gifts we have, and not discarding people.
For him, “Every person is a sacred gift, every person is a unique gift, no matter what their age or condition. Let us always respect and promote life!”