Church: Intervene in Gaza

Smoke rises over Gaza City Jan. 6
Smoke rises over Gaza City Jan. 6 (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Catholic leaders in the Holy Land and the Vatican are suggesting international intervention is required to achieve lasting peace in Gaza.

Latin Patriarch Faoud Twal, speaking Sunday in Bethlehem following a procession of children for peace, said the only solution for the Middle East is a global approach “with respect for the legitimate aspirations and interests of all parties,” Zenit reported.

The march was organized by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It is co-sponsored by Caritas Jerusalem and the Pontifical Mission to Palestine.

Also participating in the march were bishops participating in the Coordination of Bishops’ Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land, who were making their annual visit to the Middle East.

The bishops come from the United States, Europe and Latin America. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was one of the participating bishops.

Said Patriarch Twal, “We are not political leaders, but as we pray for Christ to come into our hearts, to strengthen us in our hope and faith, today we take on the mission of Christ, which knows no boundaries or borders. Let our love, sacrifices and prayers lead political leaders to building a civilization of love, reconciliation and security for everyone.”

In a Jan. 9 speech, Archbishop Silvio Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, also called for international intervention to break the cycle of violence in Gaza.

In his remarks, Archbishop Tomasi affirmed the Vatican’s solidarity with “both the people in Gaza, who are dying and suffering because of the ongoing military assault by the Israeli Defense Forces, and the people in Sderot, Ashkelon and other Israeli cities who are living under the constant terror of rocket attacks launched by Palestinian militants from within the Gaza Strip, which have caused casualties and wounded a number of people,” Zenit reported.

Archbishop Tomasi said it’s “evident” that the “warring parties are not able to exit from this vicious circle of violence without the help of the international community that should therefore fulfill its responsibilities, intervene actively to stop the bloodshed, provide access for emergency humanitarian assistance, and end all forms of confrontation.”

Added the archbishop, “At the same time, the international community should remain engaged in removing the root causes of the conflict that can only be resolved within the framework of a lasting solution of the greater Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the international resolutions adopted during the years.”

— Tom McFeely