On Wednesday, Pope Francis called for all measures to be taken to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, and expressed concern about the risk of the Hamas-Israel confrontation escalating.
“The victims are increasing and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please do everything possible to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” the 86-year-old said at the end of his weekly audience at the Vatican.
He did not explicitly mention the blast that tore through a hospital in Gaza late Tuesday killing hundreds of people, and for which Israel and Palestinians have traded blame.
“The possible widening of the conflict is worrying, while there are so many fronts already open across the world,” the head of the worldwide Catholic Church added.
“Let the weapons be silent, let the cry for peace of the poor, of the people, of the children be heard.
“War does not resolve any problems, it only spreads death and destruction. It increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future.”
Speaking in front of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square, he added: “I urge believers to take only one side in this conflict — that of peace.”
On October 27, he called for a day of prayer, fasting, and penance, with a meeting in St Peter’s Square in the evening.
He asked people from other Christian groups and other religions to participate.
Last weekend, Pope Francis appealed for humanitarian corridors to let crucial supplies into Gaza, which is under Israeli assault following a brutal Hamas offensive.