Pope thanks Patriarch Pizzaballa for closeness to people suffering from war

In a call to Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pope Francis expresses his continued concern for the Holy Family Catholic parish in Gaza and the hundreds of Christians sheltering there.

By Christopher Wells and Salvatore Cernuzio

Pope Francis has spoken by phone with Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, thanking the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for the closeness he has shown to the people since the beginning of the war between Hamas and Israel.

In the phone call, the Pope expressed his constant care for the Holy Family Catholic parish in Gaza.

The Holy Father has been in contact with the parish priest, Father Gabriel Romanelli, and the associate pastor, Father Youssef Assad, almost daily to inquire about the situation.

The Holy Family Parish, served by priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, is the only Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip.

As is the case throughout Gaza, the parish faces a shortage of food, water, and medicine, with the people of the parish struggling with a lack of heating and harsh winter temperatures.

Nonetheless, the parish complex, which includes a school, has continued to shelter hundreds of people who have lost everything in the war.

Pope Francis’ latest phone call to the Patriarch took place early on Wednesday morning and focused mainly on the situation in the parish.

Later, at the weekly General Audience, the Pope urged the faithful to “not forget the wars” raging around the world, noting in particular not only those suffering from the ongoing war in the Holy Land, but also “martyred” Ukraine and the Rohingya people in Myanmar and the “many, many wars” going on “everywhere.”

“Let us pray for peace,” the Pope said, adding, “War always is a defeat, always. We pray for peace. We need peace.”