“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Pope Francis recalled as he welcomed the expanded “diplomatic family” in the Vatican, thanking the ambassadors for their efforts to nurture good relations between the Holy See and their respective countries.
And immediately he shone the light on the central theme of his discourse – Peace – which he said, is primarily a gift of God, for it is He who left us His peace. “Yet it is also a responsibility incumbent upon all of us,” he added.
Greeting the ambassadors from throughout the globe accredited to the Holy See on Monday, 8 January 2024, he expressed deep concern about the escalating conflicts worldwide and described the current state of affairs as a “third world war fought piecemeal” openly addressing specific geopolitical crises.
Israel and Palestine
Recalling the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, the Holy Father condemned the October 7 attack on the Israeli people.
“I renew my condemnation of this act and of every instance of terrorism and extremism. This is not the way to resolve disputes between peoples; those disputes are only aggravated and cause suffering for everyone,” he said.
And condemning the subsequent military response to that act that has led to full-scale war in Gaza – where over 22,000 people have been killed and millions injured and displaced – the Pope decried the fact that it “provoked a strong Israeli military response in Gaza that has led to the death of tens of thousands of Palestinians, mainly civilians, including many young people and children, and has caused an exceptionally grave humanitarian crisis and inconceivable suffering.”
Thus, he called for an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages, and access to humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.
He also reiterated his support for a “two-state” solution, as well as an “internationally guaranteed special status for the City of Jerusalem, aiming for lasting peace and security.