United States

US bishops plead for peace in the Middle East in response to attack on Catholics in Gaza

The USCCB has issued a statement pleading for peace in the Middle East following the attack on a Catholic church and convent in Gaza.

Gonzalo Meza-December 18, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes

Smoke in Gaza after an Israeli attack (OSV News photo / Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

"It is with great sadness and horror that we continue to witness the death of innocent people in the land where Our Lord was born. Following the murder of two Christian women inside the Holy Family parish in Gaza, we call for the immediate cessation of all hostilities, the release of the hostages and the beginning of negotiations for a peaceful resolution to this conflict," said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop for the U.S. military services and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCBThe company is a member of the)

According to a press release from the office of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem -Pierbattista Pizaballa - on December 16 at noon an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper entered the Holy Family parish (a place of refuge for Christian families) and shot Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, killing them. Seven other people were also shot and injured.

The statement added that in addition, that same morning an IDF tank fired a rocket at the convent of the Missionaries of Charity, where 54 disabled people were living. The impact left behind innumerable damages, including the destruction of the electricity generator, the water reserve tank and also caused a massive fire that left the house in ruins.

Uniting for peace with the Pope

"This violence must not continue," said Bishop Timothy Broglio, adding that the U.S. bishops join their voices to that of the Holy Father "reminding all parties to this conflict that war is never the answer, but always a defeat. We ask for peace, please, peace!" the prelate exclaimed.

During the Angelus of December 17 from the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, the Pontiff reiterated his shock at the attack on the parish in Gaza and the death of the two women: "Defenseless civilians are being bombed and shot at. And this has happened even inside the parish compound of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, the sick, the disabled and nuns. The house of the Sisters of Mother Teresa was damaged, their generator was destroyed. Someone says: 'It's terrorism, it's war'. Yes, it is war, it is terrorism. That is why the Scripture says that 'God puts an end to wars... he breaks the bows and shatters the spears'. Let us pray to the Lord for peace," the Holy Father concluded.

The Israel Defense Forces denied to two news agencies, AFP and Fox News, that they were responsible for the attacks on the parish and the death of the two women: "Israeli forces do not attack civilians, regardless of their religion," they stressed.

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