Pope Francis appealed on Sunday for an end to the war ravaging the Holy Land, praying especially for Christians holed up in the Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza.
At the Angelus prayer, the Pope said he continues to receive troubling news from Gaza, where “unarmed civilians are the targets of bombings and gunfire.”
Pope Francis condemned an attack on the compound of the Catholic parish,
where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities, and nuns.
“A mother, Mrs. Nahida Khalil Anton, and her daughter, Samar Kamal Anton, were killed, and others were wounded by the shooters while they were going to the bathroom,” said the Pope.
“Some say, ‘This is terrorism. This is war.’ Yes, it is war. It is terrorism,” he said.
That is why the Scripture affirms that ‘God stops wars… breaks the bow, splinters the spear’ (Psalm 46:10). Let us pray to the Lord for peace.
Pope Francis also recalled people in various parts of the world who are suffering due to war.
“Let us not forget our brothers and sisters suffering from war, in Ukraine, in Palestine and Israel, and in other conflict zones,” he said.
May the approach of Christmas strengthen the commitment to open paths of peace.
IDF attack on Catholic parish
On Saturday, Israeli forces carried out heavy bombardment in the area surrounding Gaza’s only Catholic parish.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem released a statement alleging that an IDF tank fired a rocket which struck the Convent of the Missionaries of Charity, destroying the building’s generator and setting off a massive blaze that damaged the house.
Two more rockets reportedly rendered the convent uninhabitable for the 54 people with disabilities for whom the Sisters of Mother Theresa were caring.
“”The Convent is home to over 54 disabled persons and is part of the church compound, which was signalled as a place of worship since the beginning of the war,” said the Patriarchate.
Two Christian women killed
Later in the day, an Israeli sniper killed two Christian women who had taken refuge in the Holy Family church compound.
Nahida Khalil Anton, an elderly woman, and her daughter, Samar Kamal Anton, had reportedly exited the church building and were walking toward the Sisters’ Convent.
“One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety,” the statement said.
The sniper reportedly shot and wounded 7 other people as they tried to protect others inside the church compound.
“No warning was given; no notification was provided,” said the Patriarchate.
They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents.