By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
During Sunday Angelus prayers at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “act immediately to end the current tragic situation” in the Gaza Strip.
“War and hatred are not solutions to problems,” he said. “Today, in all the churches of the Holy Land,” church leaders are “calling on worshippers to pray for the end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip and (for) justice and peace for their land. I join in their prayers and invite you to do the same.”
Lives have been lost on both sides since hostilities between the terrorist group Hamas and the Israelis began to escalate in the region after the expiration of a six month truce. Hamas refused to extend the truce because Israel would not give up its blockade of Gaza and began launching rockets into southern Israel. In retaliation, the Israelis began bombing Hamas targets within Gaza just before launching a ground offensive this weekend.
The Pope deplored both sides “refusal to dialogue” which has resulted in an “indescribable worsening” of conditions through ground fighting for the coastal strip’s population, “once again the victims of hatred and war.”
On New Years Day, when delivering his annual World Peace Day message, the Pope warned that “violence, hatred and mistrust are themselves forms of poverty — perhaps the greatest that must be fought.
“The deep desire to live in peace… rises in the hearts of the great majority of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, once more placed in danger by the massive violence that has broken out in the Gaza Strip in response to other violence.”
The Pope also called upon world leaders to help both sides abandon “this dead-end road.”
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