Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Catholic Church All Along Expressed Concern Over Gaza Situation

_Cartoon © Ujjal Peter D'Costa

In the thick of Israeli bombardment in Gaza, Pope Benedict XVI deplored the escalation of violence in Gaza where more than 400 were dead at the time. During the Sunday (January 4) noon blessing at the Vatican, the pope called for a serious dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians as the only way out of the "perverse logic of conflict and violence," reports CNS. He called for a restoration of truce in Gaza and invited the international community in helping both sides out of the "blind alley."

The pope also added: "Today, in all the churches of the Holy Land, church leaders are calling on worshippers to pray for the end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip and for justice and peace for their land. I join in their prayers and invite you to do the same."

Mentality of Conflict

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said that the latest escalation of violence was a provocation by both sides, and showed that both Hamas and Israel were caught up in mentality of conflict. CNS quotes him: "Hamas is a prisoner of a logic of
hatred, Israel of a logic of trusting in force as the best response to hatred. They need to keep looking for a different way out, even if it seems impossible."

"...violence, hatred and mistrust are themselves forms of poverty..."

Earlier on New Year's Day, which is also the World Day of Peace in the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict warned that "violence, hatred and mistrust are themselves forms of poverty -- perhaps the greatest -- that must be fought. The deep desire to live in peace...rises in the hearts of the great majority of the Israeli and Palenstinian peoples, once more placed in danger by the massive violence that has broken out in the Gaza Strip in response to other violence."

Caritas Internationalis' Call for End of Violence

Caritas International, the confederation of 162 national Catholic charities, on January 1 called for end of violence. It said that the loss of civilian lives has been deplorable. It also said: "The international community must use all its influence to ensure existing peace accords and resolutions are upheld."

Bishops Call on US to Help in Gaza

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace on January 1 called for a high-level US representative to be sent to help negotiate peace between Israel and Hamas. He sent this appeal in a letter to Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, reports Zenit News.

He also wrote: "The rocket attacks on Israel must be stopped, and Israel's military attacks on Gaza halted....We ask you to urge the president to send a high-level personal representative to the region immediately to help negotiate a ceasefire and make provision for humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza."

"A ceasefire and humanitarian relief are indispensable intitial steps on the road to a two-state solution -- a secure Israel living in peace with a viable Palestinian state -- with justice and peace for both peoples," he added.

Irish Catholic and Anglican Archbishops' Appeal

On December 30, Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, and Anglican Archbishop Alan Harper, in a statement expressed their "distress and deepening concern for all innocent victims." They called upon both Israel and Hamas to disengage and cease all hostilities. They also mentioned: "We also call upon the international community and particularly the United States and European Union to bring maximum influence to bear to end all violence immediately and to create conditions that will lead to a just peace for Palenstinians and Israelis alike."

Latest Situation

According to the CNN, a three-hour Israeli-Hamas truce, intended for humanitarian aid into Gaza, collapsed immediately after it began on January 6. More than 100 trapped foreigners -- mostly Americans, Swedes and Canadians -- could not be evacuated.

Since the campaign began in Gaza on December 27, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded. Among the wounded, one-third are women and children. Bookmark and Share