Let There Be Peace: Pope Francis Decries Attacks in Kyiv, Gaza

pope calls for peace
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

ROME — Pope Francis released a statement Tuesday denouncing military attacks in Kyiv and Gaza while calling for an end to both conflicts.

“The Holy Father learned with grave sorrow of the attacks on two medical centers in Kyiv, including Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital, as well as on a school in Gaza,” reads the statement made available by the Holy See Press Office.

“The pope expresses his deep concern over the escalation in violence,” the statement continues. “While expressing closeness to the innocent victims and the wounded, he hopes and prays that concrete paths can soon be identified to put an end to the ongoing conflicts.”

Israel’s military said its latest strike hit “the area of the school” in Hamas-run Gaza City, adding that the school complex was used as a militant hideout and housed “a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility.”

The pontiff’s words follow on recent remarks by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in which he declared that Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza cannot be deemed a “just war.”

“There is just war, the war of defense, but today with the weapons that are available, this concept becomes very difficult,” Cardinal Parolin told journalists in early July.

Asked about the current armed conflict in Gaza, Parolin said: “It’s never a just war, in this sense.”

“A just war can only be spoken of in the context of defense, the case of a war of defense,” he added.

A commission representing Catholic Church leaders in the Holy Land similarly issued a statement denying that Israel’s ongoing offensive in Gaza can be described as a “just war.”

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Holy Land denounced the use of the term “just war” to describe the ongoing offensive waged by Israel in Gaza, insisting that neither Hamas’ attacks nor Israel’s indiscriminate response are a “just war.”

“This theory is being used in a way in which it was never intended: to justify the death of tens of thousands, our friends and our neighbors,” said the Commission, which is led by Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem.

“We cannot allow words like ‘just’ to be mobilized to justify what is unjust, cruel and devastating,” it continued. “We must argue for the integrity of language, because we remain convinced that true justice is still possible if we can hold fast to its promise.”

“Neither the attacks by Hamas nor Israel’s devastating war in response satisfy the criteria for ‘just war’ according to Catholic Doctrine,” the Commission stated.

In response, the Israeli embassy to the Holy See issued its own statement condemning the text.

“It should be lamented that a group of people from the Catholic Church has decided to issue a document that, using religious pretext and linguistic stunts, does nothing else than de facto objecting [to] Israel’s right to defend itself from its enemies’ declared intentions to put an end to its existence,” said the July 2 Israeli press release.

Israel’s objective from the beginning of the conflict was “to end Hamas rule in the territory and secure that atrocities like the ones committed on Oct. 7 will not happen again,” the statement said.

The embassy also took issue with framing the post-Oct. 7 events as “the war in Gaza” and said criticisms of the disproportionate nature of the fighting create “a false symmetry that reflects bias and one-sidedness.”

The characterization of the conflict as “the war in Gaza” conveniently ignores the “simultaneous attacks against Israel from Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iran,” it said.

A better title for the events of the last nine months would be “The war against Israel’s existence,” it added.

The text noted as well that Hamas terrorists have deliberately embedded themselves in civilian areas, putting noncombatants at risk in order to turn public opinion against Israel.


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