Patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued an appeal for the immediate cessation of all violence and military activities in the Holy Land.
The plea came in the aftermath of a devastating attack on October 7th, which prompted Israel to declare an official war operation – “Operation Swords of Iron” – against Palestinian Hamas militants.
Pope Francis, during his Angelus address on Sunday, called for peace in the Holy Land. His call for de-escalation echoes the sentiments of various church leaders worldwide who are urging an end to the ongoing violence.
The Hamas attack, known as the “Al-Aqsa Storm,” is considered the deadliest terrorist attack on Israel in 50 years.
It has claimed the lives of approximately 700 Israelis, including many civilians, while around 100 individuals were taken hostage.
In retaliatory strikes by Israel, the Palestinian death toll has exceeded 400, with over 2,750 people wounded. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have fled their homes, according to UNRWA.
In a Vatican News report, Father Gabriel Romanelli, the parish priest of the Holy Family, the only Catholic parish in Gaza serving some 1,000 Catholics, emphasized the profound uncertainty among the Gazawi people.
He invoked Pope Pius XII’s words: “Nothing is lost with peace, everything can be lost with war.”
Over the past 15 years, Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have led to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, including women, children, and the elderly.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, before the recent attacks, at least 6,400 Palestinians and 308 Israelis died due to the conflict from 2008 to 2023.
Church leaders in Jerusalem, alongside the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, have called for the preservation of the Status Quo in all Holy Places within the Holy Land.
The leaders emphasized the need for an immediate end to “violent and military activities that bring harm to both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”
They expressed solidarity with the people of the region, expressing that “such actions go against the fundamental principles of humanity and the teachings of Christ.”
In a statement, the Church leaders implored political leaders and authorities to engage in sincere dialogue to seek lasting solutions that promote justice, peace, and reconciliation.
They also called on the international community to intensify its efforts to mediate a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land based on equal rights for all and international legitimacy.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has echoed these sentiments, urgently appealing for an immediate cessation of the deadly violence and urging Hamas to cease their attacks.
WCC’s General Secretary, Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay, expressed deep concern over the escalating conflict, emphasizing that the current attacks only lead to more violence and cannot pave the way for peace or justice.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), reiterated that violence can never be a solution, and retribution does not contribute to peace.
He called on the faithful to pray for peace in the Holy Land and for the immediate release of those taken hostage.