Pope to Meet Kin of Israeli Hostages and Palestinians

The meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, which according to Holy See are “of an exclusively humanitarian nature” and aim to express Pope Francis’ “spiritual closeness to the suffering of each individual”…reports Asian Lite News

Pope Francis will meet separately with a group of relatives of Israelis held hostage in Gaza and a group of family members of Palestinians suffering from the conflict in Gaza, the Holy See announced.

Matteo Bruni, Vatican spokesman and the Director of the Holy See Press Office said added that the meetings are “of an exclusively humanitarian nature” and aim to express Pope Francis’ “spiritual closeness to the suffering of each individual”.

“As he stated at the end of last Sunday’s Angelus, ‘Every human being, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, of any people and religion, every human being is sacred, precious in the eyes of God, and has the right to live in peace,” said Bruni.

Last week, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has reiterated its pressing appeal for a just peace in Gaza and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

In a statement released this week by the WCC Executive Committee as it concluded its annual meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, the ecumenical body expressed deep concern over the growing toll of death, destruction, and trauma inflicted on innocent civilians on both sides.

The statement decried what it described as “the abject failure” of the international community and of political leaders in the region to stop the endless cycle of violence and suffering in the “Holy Land.”

The Committee once again condemned Hamas attacks on Israel, expressing shock and outrage at the killing of innocent civilians, including children, and the use of hostages and civilians as human shields.

It also condemned what it called Israel’s disproportionate retaliation in Gaza, criticising the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, hospitals, churches, and mosques, which so far has caused over 11,000 deaths and injured at least 37,000, most of whom were women and children.

The statement further noted unprecedented levels of violence against civilians, schools, and communities by both settlers and Israeli armed forces in the West Bank and decried the closure of access to Palestinian villages.

The WCC governing body highlighted the potential inter-generational consequences of the trauma experienced by children in both Palestine and Israel.

It, therefore, appealed “for respect by all parties for the God-given life and dignity of every human being” as well as for the principles of international humanitarian law, demanding “the immediate unconditional release and safe return of all hostages” along with “an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors.”

The committee also expressed “grave concern” over “the proliferation of hateful acts and expressions of antisemitism and of hatred of Arabs and Muslims in the region and the wider world” as a consequence of the conflict.

The WCC reiterated its pressing call on the international community to re-engage in active support for a sustainable and just peace in the region, founded on recognition and respect for the human dignity and equal human rights of all people, regardless of their background.

It concluded by inviting member Churches and all people of good will to pray and work together for peace in the region.

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