His is a bleeding heart, torn by grief for the thousands of victims who are increasing every day. But it is also a divided heart, “because in my community there are Palestinians and Israelis. And holding everything together at this time is really very complicated.” Speaking with Vatican Media, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, expresses his concern at the increasing difficulty in interceding for both sides in the dispute. Nonetheless, he says, “One has to try, one cannot give up.” Efforts for peace certainly cannot be set aside.
Gaza: An immense tragedy
The tragedy of Gaza is in the Patriarch’s eyes and mind, with images he may never be able to erase. It is disturbing to hear him list the dead, who “number over 5,000, among them many women and children. And then the neighborhoods razed to the ground by shelling, no water, no food, no electricity. It is a situation that I cannot understand. I also wrote about it in a letter addressed to the faithful of my diocese.” He asserts bluntly that bombing will never lead to any solution.
Open humanitarian corridors
The total closure of the Gaza Strip, in which two million people are now trapped without basic necessities, prompts Pizzaballa to call forcefully for “the opening of humanitarian corridors that will allow injured people to be treated, and [will allow] access to humanitarian aid trucks. After all, those two million people are not all followers of Hamas.” The Cardinal repeats: “We condemned what Hamas did in southern Israel, these are atrocities that have no justification. But the answer to this cannot be to starve two million people.”
Fear for Christians
Pizzaballa’s heart also beats for the fate of Gaza’s Christians, who have taken refuge in two separate parishes, the Latin parish of the Holy Family and the Greek Orthodox parish of St. Porphyry, the latter of which has been struck by some of the bombings. “Contacts with them are daily,” he says. “Through humanitarian organizations, we try to get them what they need. We have also sent the authorities the precise location of our communities to prevent further tragedies. For now, there is nothing more we can do.”
Hostages: silence is necessary
The Cardinal is convinced that the question of the Israeli hostages in the hands of Hamas is a central point of the war because this is the issue upon which Gaza’s immediate future will be determined. “Many channels, many entities,” he says, “are working to attempt mediation.” But, he cautions, “Let them work: the less they talk about it, the easier it will be to reach a conclusion.”
Close but distinct
Looking ahead, the Patriarch strongly argues that “peace must be sought at any cost.” However, he adds, “One must not confuse peace with victory.” To achieve stability, the Cardinal explains, both sides will have to lose something. Israelis and Palestinians are unlikely to be able to live together, but if they remain separate, they will nonetheless have to find a way to exist side-by-side. “And we have to create the conditions for this to happen as soon as possible.”
By Federico Piana | vaticannews