ROME — Pope Francis denounced escalating violence in Israel on Sunday, especially the “unacceptable” killing of children.
“I am following with great concern what is taking place in the Holy Land,” the pope said following his prayer of the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square. “In recent days, violent armed clashes between the Gaza Strip and Israel have gained the upper hand and are in danger of degenerating into a spiral of death and destruction.”
“Numerous people have been injured and many innocent people have died,” he lamented. “Among them there are also children and this is terrible and unacceptable. Their death is a sign that people do not want to build the future but to destroy it.”
In his Italian-language address, the pontiff warned that “the escalating hatred and violence that is affecting various cities in Israel is a serious wound to fraternity and peaceful coexistence among citizens, which will be difficult to heal if we do not open up to dialogue immediately.”
“I ask myself: where will hatred and revenge lead?” he continued. “Do we really think we are building peace by destroying the other?”
“In the name of God who created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and called them to live together as brothers among themselves, I appeal to calm and call on those responsible to put an end to the din of weapons and to walk the paths of peace, also with the help of the international community,” the pope said.
“We pray incessantly that Israelis and Palestinians may find the path of dialogue and forgiveness,” he said, “to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening up, step by step, to a common hope and coexistence as brothers.”
“We pray for the victims, especially the children,” Francis concluded, before inviting his hearers to join him in the recitation of the Hail Mary.