The remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel lies on a road where it fell in Ashkelon, southern Israel 

By Michele Raviart

Oct 11 2023

Gaza parish priest Fr Gabriel Romanelli has received two calls from Pope Francis since the beginning of the war to find out how people are doing there with the Israeli raids underway following the Hamas terrorist attacks.

Pope Francis is constantly following what is happening in Gaza, reaching out to the small Christian community in the Strip by telephone.

Parish priest Father Gabriel Romanelli told Vatican News about two phone calls he has received from the Pope since Saturday.

Fr Romanelli is currently in Bethlehem and in constant contact with the faithful of his parish.

“The Pope called me a few minutes ago”, he said. “He expressed his closeness and offered his prayers.”

Fr Romanelli said he “thanked him for his call for a ceasefire and a stop to all violence, all terrorism and all war.”

The Pope, he added, “wanted to show his closeness, and now he was going to call the community directly with my vicar helping people who are refugees in the parish.”

Catholic community under fire

The Gaza parish is home to around 150 people who have lost their homes or are seeking a safe place from the bombardments, said the Italian-born priest.

He noted that the raids have affected the entire area, but said there have not yet been any reports of deaths among the Christian community or damages. 

In all of Gaza, there have been over 770 deaths reported and 4,000 injured as of Tuesday, as a result of the Israeli raids in response to the terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October.

“Pope Francis also called [on Monday],” recalled the parish priest, explaining that the Pope wanted to know how the people and the parish were doing.

The Pope also imparted his “blessing so that everyone may experience the closeness of the Church.” – Vatican News