Smoke billows over northern Gaza  (AFP or licensors)

By Francesca Merlo

Oct 20 2023

Appealing for peace in the Holy Land, Pope Francis expresses concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, calling on all parties to lay down their weapons and all Christians to pray and fast on 27 October for peace.

“The number of victims is growing and the situation in Gaza is desperate.”

With these words, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to Palestine and Israel pleading that “everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Speaking at his weekly General Audience, the Holy Father also drew attention to the unsettling possibility of the conflict’s expansion.

“The world already witnesses so many open war fronts,” he lamented.

In light of these circumstances, he implored, “Lay down weapons and heed the cries for peace from the poor, the people, and the innocent children.”

“War solves no problems,” he said. “It only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future, it erases the future.”

The Holy Father went on to urge all believers to take one side only: that of peace. “But not with words,” he continued, “with prayer and with total dedication.”

Invitation to a day of penance

In this regard, Pope Francis invited everyone to a day of prayer, fasting, and penance for peace.

On Friday, 27 October, he encouraged people of different Christian denominations, other religions, and all those who advocate for peace to participate as they see fit.

The central event will be an hour of prayer at 6 PM in St. Peter’s Square, with the goal of invoking peace for the world.

“I invite all the particular Churches to take part by organizing similar initiatives which involve the people of God,” he concluded. – Vatican News