“We all feel the pain of the wars.”
Pope Francis acknowledged the proliferation of war and its devastating effects with those words in a video message released on Wednesday, November 22.
“Since the Second World War ended until today, wars have followed in many parts of the world,” he said. “When they are far away from us, we do not feel them as much. Today there are two very near that force us to react: Ukraine and the Holy Land.”
The Pope expressed his sorrow for the suffering caused by war. “What is happening in the Holy Land is very painful. It is very painful,” he said.
Right to live in peace
Pope Francis went on to assert that the Palestinian people and the people of Israel “have the right to peace”.
“These two fraternal peoples have the right to live in peace,” he added.
He then invited everyone to pray for peace in the Holy Land and for dialogue to prevail.
“Let us pray for peace in the Holy Land,” he said. “Let us pray that the difficulties resolve themselves in dialogue and negotiation and not with a mountain of dead on each side.”
Prayer novena for peace
The Pope’s video message was accompanied by a press release from the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which invites people to take part in a novena.
The “Peacemakers” novena seeks to unite Christians in praying for “peace in the world, and for the Holy Land, Palestine and Israel.”
Prayers and material can be found at the link and on the “Click To Pray” app, known as the Pope’s official prayer app.
Audiences with Palestinians and Israelis
Earlier, at the Wednesday General Audience, the Holy Father renewed his appeal for peace in the region.
He also met separately with several Israelis whose relatives are being held hostage in Gaza and with a delegation of Palestinians whose families are suffering in the Strip.
During those encounters, the Pope met first with the 12 members of the Israeli delegation at his residence in the Casa Santa Marta at 7:30 am.
He then met with the Palestinian delegation at around 8:00 AM in a room in the Paul VI Hall.
The Palestinian delegation was composed of 10 people with relatives in Gaza, and included Christians and Muslims. They were accompanied by Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, the parish priest of the Catholic Church of the Holy Family in Gaza, and a Greek Orthodox priest.
"They suffer so much. I heard how they both suffer," said the Pope, in his remarks at the Audience, adding that "wars do that".
"Let us pray for the Palestinian people; let us pray for the Israeli people, so that peace may come," the Pope concluded.