By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The “spiral of death” that has materialized in the Holy Land in recent days threatens the little remaining trust that exists between Israelis and Palestinians, Pope Francis said.
Speaking to a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus prayer Jan. 29, the pope said he was “greatly pained” to learn of the death of 10 Palestinians killed during an Israeli anti-terrorism raid Jan. 26 and a shooting outside of a Jerusalem synagogue that killed seven Israelis Jan. 27.
Pope Francis noted that “dozens of Palestinians have been killed in firefights with the Israeli army” since the start of the year, and he called on the Israeli and Palestinian governments to “immediately” find a way to end the violence with “dialogue and the sincere search for peace.”
According to Israel’s foreign ministry, the synagogue shooting is the deadliest attack on Israelis since a 2008 shooting that killed eight people in a Jewish seminary. The attack followed a continued uptick in Israeli military activity in the West Bank which began in 2022.
The pope then turned his attention the blockade of the Lachin corridor, which connects Armenia to the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus. Since December 2022, a group of Azerbaijani protesters have blocked access to the region, leaving many Armenians who reside there unable to return to their homes.
“I am close to those who, in full winter, are forced to deal with these inhumane conditions,” the pope said.
Pope Francis was joined at the window of his studio by two young Romans, members of the “Caravan for Peace” organized by the Diocese of Rome. With the war in Ukraine in mind, the pope said that each person must continually strengthen their commitment to peace.