POPE Francis’ words on the conflict in Gaza are having an impact in the Holy Land and on a “truly tragic” situation, the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine has said.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, who is a former apostolic nuncio to Australia, said the Pope’s words had had “a major impact” and were relayed on all the official media.
“Everyone has repeated the appeal of the Holy Father,” he said. “That’s what we all hope here because the situation is becoming truly tragic. There is a loss of human life that is not acceptable. We must put an end to violence because this creates other conflict situations. They open new wounds that continue to produce even more death.”
The archbishop added: “It is urgent that those responsible understand that there is no other path than that of dialogue and negotiation; stakeholders must be helped and should be brought to the negotiating table.”
A diplomatic push to broker a truce in Gaza was intensifying on July 22 as Israel continued its military operation against militants in the territory.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry met United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon in Cairo, and more high-profile talks will be held later. More than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed in the past two weeks of fighting, officials said.
On July 20, Pope Francis renewed his appeal for dialogue and an end to the violence.
Archbishop Lazzarotto said Pope Francis sowed the first seed of dialogue when he hosted the Invocation for Peace in the Holy Land at the Vatican last month. But now it was important to “surround this seed with care, make it grow and make it bear the fruit that it should give”, the archbishop said.
The gesture, he said, needed to be translated into “concrete actions” which took “courage”.
“People are tired,” the archbishop said, because the conflict had “lasted too long. These recurring incidents of conflict naturally create more frustration, but most of the people want peace.”
He said with the resources it had available, the Church in the Holy Land did everything it could in this situation to help, such as providing on-site assistance through local Catholic aid agencies such as Caritas.
Archbishop Lazzarotto concluded by appealing to pilgrims not to stay away from the Holy Land, noting that “many pilgrims have cancelled their trip, their pilgrimage: But I say that coming to the Holy Land is also a nice gesture of solidarity. It helps to know that other Christians – despite everything – come here.”