Francis calls for end to violence in Middle East

Mourners at the funeral of the eight-month-old baby who died after inhaling tear gas at the Israel-Gaza border (CNS)

Pope Francis has called for peace and dialogue in the Middle East, following increased violence during the transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Source: CNA.

“I am very worried and distressed by the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, and by the spiral of violence that is increasingly moving away from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations,” Pope Francis said yesterday.

Speaking at the end of the general audience, Francis expressed his sorrow for the dead and wounded, saying he is “close with prayer and affection to all those who suffer” and repeating that violence does not lead to peace.

“War calls war, violence calls violence,” he said. “God have mercy on us!”

Deadly protests on the Israel-Gaza border over the past seven weeks escalated on Monday after Israeli troops opened fire on protesting Palestinians, resulting in 58 dead and 2700 injured, most from sniper-fire. Eight children under the age of 16, including an eight-month-old baby, were among Monday’s dead.

The conflict coincided with the United States’ inauguration of its first embassy in Jerusalem, a controversial move, which Palestinians have taken as US-backing of Israeli control of the city.

Pope Francis yesterday invited “all the parties involved and the international community to renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail.” He also led Catholics in praying a Hail Mary to ask for the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace.


Pope Francis decries 'spiral of violence' in Middle East (CNA

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