By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis appealed “in the name of God” for calm in the Holy Land, after seven days of fighting that has left scores of people dead and hundreds more wounded.
The deaths of dozens of children among them are particularly “terrible and unacceptable," the Pope said. “Their death is a sign that people do not want to build the future, but to destroy it.”
He warned that the ongoing violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip risks degenerating “into a spiral of death and destruction,” with wounds to “fraternity and peaceful coexistence” that will be difficult to heal without an immediate return to dialogue.
The Pope urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders “to stop the clamour of arms and to walk the path of peace, with the help of the international community."
He called for “unceasing” prayer for Israelis and Palestinians to “find the path of dialogue and forgiveness, to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening up, step-by-step, to a common hope, to coexistence between brothers.”
Pope Francis then asked the faithful to pray for the victims of the conflict, “especially the children.”
“Let us pray for peace to the Queen of Peace,” he said, before leading them in the recitation of a Hail Mary.