Pope Francis conveyed his deep sorrow for the ongoing tragedy in the Holy Land during a meeting with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem at the Vatican on Thursday.
The pontiff lamented the immense suffering and loss of innocent lives in the very places where Jesus Christ taught the values of love, forgiveness, and goodness, according to Vatican News.
“We are sadly witnessing a tragedy unfolding in the very places where the Lord lived, where He taught us through His humanity to love, to forgive, and to do good to all,” he said.
“Instead, we see them torn apart by tremendous suffering that affects so many innocents above all, so many innocent dead,” he added.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, with origins dating back to the First Crusade, plays a crucial role in supporting the Catholic Church and maintaining a Christian presence in the Holy Land through charitable acts and missions.
During the meeting, Pope Francis expressed his spiritual closeness to the members of the Order, who are currently gathered for their Consultation.
The Pope acknowledged their shared sorrow for the challenges faced by the Mother Church of Jerusalem and called for prayers for the gift of peace.
The focus of the Consultation centered on the theme of formation, with the Pope emphasizing the importance of spiritual and managerial awareness.
He outlined four guidelines represented by the sign of the Cross on their mantles: initial and ongoing formation, practical and spiritual.
Pope Francis encouraged the members to let the Crucified and Risen Christ embrace their work and lives through charity, prayer, and service to others.
He urged them to be attentive to the realities in which they operate, emphasizing the integral well-being of the human person.
“May the Virgin Mary invoked by you with the title of Queen of Palestine, assist you always in your mission. From my heart I bless you and, I bless all the members of the Order and their families,” said Pope Francis.
He also emphasized the importance of caring for the vulnerable, including the elderly, sick, and refugees, echoing the biblical imperative to care for the widow, orphan, and stranger.