The Vatican is prepared to serve as mediator for peace between Israel and Gaza.
Secretary of State Pietro Parolin told Vatican News that negotiations for the safe return of hostages and an end to the violence were the church’s primary concern.
“The release of Israeli hostages and the protection of innocent lives in Gaza are at the heart of the problem created by Hamas’s attack and the response of the Israeli army,” said Parolin. “They are at the center of all of our concerns: the Pope and the entire international community.”
The secretary of state reiterated the Catholic Church’s desire to serve as peace advocates, having already expressed similar goals in helping to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The Holy See is ready for any necessary mediation, as always. In the meantime, we try to use the channels that are already open,” Parolin said in his Saturday interview. “However, any mediation to end the conflict must take into account a series of elements that make the issue very complex and articulated, such as the issue of Israeli settlements, security and the issue of the city of Jerusalem.”
Earlier this year, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, an Italian prelate and archbishop of Bologna, as the Holy See’s advocate for peace between Russia and Ukraine.
Parolin continued, “It is necessary to regain a sense of reason, abandon the blind logic of hatred, and reject violence as a solution. It is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but even legitimate defense must respect the parameter of proportionality.”
“I continue to follow what is happening in Israel and Palestine with tears and apprehension: many people killed, others injured,” Pope Francis said. “I pray for those families who have seen a feast day transformed into a day of mourning, and I ask that the hostages be released immediately.”
“I do not know how much room for dialogue there can be between Israel and the Hamas militia, but if there is—and we hope there is—it should be pursued immediately and without delay,” said Parolin.
He concluded, “This is to avoid further bloodshed, as is happening in Gaza, where many innocent civilian victims have been caused by the Israeli army’s attacks.”
The Palestinian health ministry reports that 2,125 Palestinians have been killed, and another 8,714 were wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since war broke out on Oct. 7.
The Israeli military has said the bodies of about 1,500 Hamas terrorists were found in Israeli territory after Hamas launched its surprise terror attack on Israel, killing as many as 1,300 Israelis.
Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.