04/14/2024, 15.57
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Pope speaks at the Angelus about Mideast crisis: ‘No-one should threaten the existence of others’

After Iran attacks Israel, Francis issues an appeal in St Peter's Square to avoid "an even greater military conflict”. Instead, nations should stand for peace and pursue the paths of negotiation. Calling for a two-state solution, he insists that this is a “deep and legitimate desire" for Israelis and Palestinians. On Gaza, “Let us help that population, plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis this morning made a "heartfelt appeal" to cease any action that can fuel a "spiral of violence" that might drag the Middle East into “an even greater military conflict.”

The pontiff spoke after the recitation of the Regina Caeli, following a night of anxiety caused by Iran's attack on Israel. Coming after days of threats, Iran’s operation saw the launch of about 300 missiles and drones, 99 per cent of which were intercepted.

In his address, the Holy Father noted that he was following “in prayer, and with concern, even pain" the news of worsening tensions in the region. “No-one should threaten the existence of others," he said from the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

Instead, “all the nations” should “take the side of peace,” a suggestion that comes as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni held a video meeting with other G7 leaders this afternoon.

The world should help “Israelis and Palestinians live in two states, side by side, in safety”, a solution the Church has reiterated on numerous occasions in recent months. “It is their deep and legitimate desire, and it is their right. Two neighbouring states," Pope Francis said before urging the parties to accept a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The path to follow at this tense moment is dialogue. “Let us pursue the paths of negotiation," Francis said. "Negotiation," he repeated a second time.

Turning his thoughts to the suffering Palestinian people, he said: “Let us help that population, plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe; let the hostages kidnapped months ago be released! So much suffering!”

“Let us pray for peace. No more war, no more attacks, no more violence! Yes to dialogue and yes to peace!” he added, sparking a long applause rose from a sun-drenched St Peter's Square.

In his remarks after the Marian prayer, the Bishop of Rome greeted with affection the boys and girls present in St Peter's ahead of the first World Children's Day to be celebrated in the Vatican on 25 and 26 May.

“I invite everyone to accompany the journey towards this event – the first Children’s Day – with prayer, and I thank those who are working to prepare for it.”

Addressing the young participants of the long-awaited event, he noted: “I am waiting for you! All of you! We need your joy and your wish for a better world, a world at peace.”

At this point, the pope spoke about the suffering that is gripping the world, especially children.

“Let us pray, brothers and sisters, for the children who suffer because of the wars – there are many of them! – in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, and in other parts of the world, in Myanmar. Let us pray for them, and for peace.”

The pontiff hailed the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which today celebrated its 100th national day in Italy, dedicated this year to Demand for the future: young people between disenchantment and desire.

“I encourage this great University to continue its important formative service, faithful to its mission and attentive to the needs of the young and of society today," Pope Francis said.

Before the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father spoke about the Gospel of the day (Lk 24:35-48), centred on the meeting between the disciples in the Upper Room and Jesus, after two of them met him on the road to Emmaus and recognised him when he broke the bread. The two shared the experience with the other apostles at the meeting.

“Jesus arrives precisely while they are sharing the story of the encounter with Him,” Francis said. Thus, “it is important to share faith”, and “our encounter with Jesus.”

For the pontiff, talking about this is hard. Nevertheless, it is important to share the story of this moment because it is important “to talk about the good inspirations that have guided us in life, the good thoughts and feelings that help us so much to go forward, and also about our efforts and labours to understand and to progress in the life of faith”.

To those listening, in Rome or online, he said to "remember a powerful moment in our life of faith, a decisive encounter with Jesus". To do this, Pope Francis asked for a moment of silence, to think.

Lastly, the pontiff invoked Our Lady to “help us to share the faith to make our communities ever greater places of encounter with the Lord.”

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