Pope Francis

Dialogika Resources

Public Remarks on Israel-Hamas War: October 2023-present

[The following remarks made by Pope Francis after traditional weekly audiences, prayers, or messages are excerpted from the Vatican website.]

 

Angelus Prayer, October 8, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters, I am following apprehensively and sorrowfully what is happening in Israel where violence has exploded yet more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and injured. I express my closeness to the families of the victims. I am praying for them and for all who are living hours of terror and anguish. May the attacks and weapons stop. Please! And may it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of  many innocent people. War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat. Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.

General Audience, October 11, 2023

I continue to follow what is happening in Israel and Palestine with tears and apprehension: many people killed, others injured. I pray for those families who have seen a day of celebration turn into a day of mourning, and I ask that the hostages be released immediately. It is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but I am very concerned about the total siege under which the Palestinians are living in Gaza, where there have also been many innocent victims. Terrorism and extremism do not help reach a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but fuel hatred, violence and revenge, and only cause suffering to both. The Middle East does not need war, but peace, a peace built on justice, dialogue and the courage of fraternity.

Angelus Prayer, October 15, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters, I continue to follow with great sorrow what is happening in Israel and Palestine. I think again of the many [people] … in particular of the children and the elderly. I renew my appeal for the release of the hostages, and I strongly ask that children, the sick, the elderly, women, and all civilians not be made victims of the conflict. May Humanitarian Law be respected, especially in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to ensure humanitarian corridors and to come to the aid of the entire population. Brothers and sisters, many have already died. Please, let no more innocent blood be shed, neither in the Holy Land nor in Ukraine, nor in any other place! Enough! Wars are always a defeat, always!

Prayer is the meek and holy force to oppose the diabolical force of hatred, terrorism and war. I invite all believers to join with the Church in the Holy Land and to dedicate next Tuesday, 17 October, to prayer and fasting.

General Audience, October 18, 2023

Today too, dear brothers and sisters, our thoughts turn to Palestine and Israel. The number of victims is rising and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please, let everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

The possible widening of the conflict is disturbing, while so many war fronts are already open in the world. May weapons fall silent! Let us heed the cry for peace of populations, of the people, of the children! Brothers and sisters, war does not solve any problem: it sows only death and destruction, foments hate and proliferates revenge. War cancels out the future. I urge believers to take just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not with words — with prayer, with total dedication.

With this in mind, I have decided to call for a day of fasting and prayer, of penance, on Friday 27 October, to which I invite sisters and brothers of the various Christian denominations, those belonging to other religions and all those who have at heart the cause of peace in the world, to join in as they see fit. That evening, at 6 p.m., at Saint Peter’s, we will spend an hour of prayer, in a spirit of penance, to implore peace in our time, peace in this world. I ask all the particular Churches to participate by arranging similar activities involving the People of God.

Angelus Prayer, October 22, 2023

Once more my thoughts turn to what is happening in Israel and Palestine. I am very concerned, grieved. I pray and I am close to all those who are suffering:  the hostages, the wounded, the victims and their relatives. I think of the serious humanitarian situation in Gaza and I am saddened that the Anglican hospital and the Greek-Orthodox parish have also been hit in recent days. I renew my appeal for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive, and for the hostages to be freed.

War, any war that there is in the world – I also think of tormented Ukraine – is a defeat. War is always a defeat; it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!

I remind you that next Friday, 27 October, I have proclaimed a day of fasting, prayer and penance, and that evening at 18.00 in Saint Peter’s Square we will spend an hour in prayer to implore peace in the world.

General Audience, October 25, 2023

I think always of the grave situation in Palestine and Israel: I encourage the release of the hostages and the entry of humanitarian aid in Gaza. I continue to pray for those who suffer, and to hope for paths of peace in the Middle East, in beleaguered Ukraine, and in other regions afflicted by war. I remind you all that the day after tomorrow, Friday 27 October, will be a day of fasting, prayer and penance: at 18.00, in Saint Peter’s Square, we will gather together to implore peace in the world.

Angelus Prayer, October 29, 2023

I thank all those who -- in so many places and in various ways – united themselves to the day of fasting, prayer and penance that we lived last Friday, imploring peace for the world. Let us not stop. Let us continue to pray for Ukraine, as well as for the serious situation in Palestine and Israel, and for other regions at war. Particularly, in Gaza, may space be opened to guarantee humanitarian aid, and may the hostages be released right away. Let no one abandon the possibility that the weapons might be silenced – let there be a ceasefire. Father Ibrahim Faltas, whom I heard recently on the program A Sua Immagine, Father Ibrahim was saying: “Let the arms cease! Let the arms cease!” He is the vicar of the Holy Land. With Father Ibrahim, let us too say: let the arms cease. Stop, brothers and sisters! war is always a defeat — always!

Angelus Prayer, November 5, 2023

I continue to think about the serious situation in Palestine and in Israel where many, many people have lost their lives. In God’s name, I beg you to stop: cease using weapons! I hope that avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict might be absolutely avoided, so that the wounded can be rescued and help might get to the population of Gaza where the humanitarian situation is extremely serious. May the hostages be freed immediately. There are also many children among them – may they return to their families! Yes, let’s think of the children, of all the children affected by this war, as well as in Ukraine and by other conflicts: this is how their future is being killed. Let us pray that there might be the strength to say, “enough”.

Excerpts from Address to a Delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, November 6, 2023 (full text

My first thought and prayer goes, above all else, to everything that has happened in the last few weeks. Yet again violence and war have erupted in that Land blessed by the Most High, which seems continually assailed by the vileness of hatred and the deadly clash of weapons. The spread of anti-Semitic demonstrations, which I strongly condemn, is also of great concern. ...

In this time in which we are witnessing violence and destruction, we believers are called to build fraternity and open paths of reconciliation for all and before all, in the name of the Almighty who, as another prophet says, has “plans for welfare and not for evil” (Jer 29:11). Not weapons, not terrorism, not war, but compassion, justice and dialogue are the fitting means for building peace.

I would like to reflect on the art of dialogue. ... The word “dialogue” etymologically means “through the word”. The Word of the Most High is the light that illumines the paths of life (cf. Ps 119:105): it directs our own steps to the search for our neighbour, to acceptance and to patience; certainly not to the brusque passion of vengeance and the folly of bitter hatred. How important it is, therefore, for us believers to be witnesses of dialogue!

If we apply these observations to the context of Jewish-Christian dialogue, we can say that we draw near to each other through encounter, listening and fraternal exchange, acknowledging ourselves to be servants and disciples of that divine Word, the living channel from which our words spring forth. In this way, in order to become builders of peace, we are called to be builders of dialogue, not only with our own strengths and abilities, but with the help of the Almighty. Indeed, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 127:1).

The dialogue with Judaism is particularly important for us Christians, because we have Jewish roots. Jesus was born and lived as a Jew; he himself is the first guarantor of the Jewish heritage at the centre of Christianity and we who are Christians need you, dear brothers. We need Judaism to understand ourselves better. It is therefore important that Jewish Christian dialogue should keep its theological dimension alive, while continuing to face social, cultural and political questions. ...

Dear brothers, we are linked to each other before the one God; together we are called to bear witness to his word with our dialogue and to his peace with our actions. May the Lord of history and life grant us the courage and the patience to do so. Shalom!

General Audience, November 8, 2023

Let us think about and pray for the people suffering from war. Let us not forget martyred Ukraine and let us think about the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples: may the Lord lead us to a just peace. There is so much suffering: children suffer, the sick suffer, the elderly, and so many young people are dying. War is always a defeat: let us not forget. It is always a defeat.

Message to the Paris Peace Forum, November 10, 2023 [excerpt] 

While reaffirming the inalienable right to self-defence and the responsibility to protect those whose lives are threatened, we must acknowledge that war is always a “defeat of humanity” (General Audience, 23 March 2022). No war is worth the tears of a mother who has seen her child mutilated or killed; no war is worth the loss of the life of even one human being, a sacred being created in the image and likeness of the Creator; no war is worth the poisoning of our common home; and no war is worth the despair of those who are forced to leave their homeland and are deprived, from one moment to the next, of their home and all the family, friendship, social and cultural ties that have been built up, sometimes over generations.

Angelus Prayer, November 12, 2023

For some months Sudan has been in the throes of a civil war that shows no sign of abating, and which is causing numerous victims, millions of internally displaced people and refugees in neighbouring countries, and a very grave humanitarian situation. I am close to the sufferings of those dear populations of Sudan, and I address a heartfelt appeal to local leaders to facilitate access to humanitarian aid and, with the contribution of the international community, to work in search of peaceful solutions. Let us not forget these brothers and sisters of ours who are in distress!

And our thoughts turn every day to the very serious situation in Israel and in Palestine. I am close to all those who are suffering, Palestinians and Israelis. I embrace them in this dark moment. And I pray for them a lot. May the weapons be stopped: they will never lead to peace, and may the conflict not widen! Enough! Enough, brothers! In Gaza, let the wounded be rescued immediately, let civilians be protected, let far more humanitarian aid be allowed to reach that stricken population. May the hostages be freed, including the elderly and children. Every human being, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, of any people or religion, every human being is sacred, is precious in the eyes of God and has the right to live in peace. Let us not lose hope: let us pray and work tirelessly so that the sense of humanity may prevail over hardness of heart.

Angelus Prayer, November 19, 2023

I reiterate my closeness to the dear people of Myanmar, who unfortunately continue to suffer from violence and abuse. I pray that they are not discouraged and trust always in the help of the Lord.

And, brothers and sisters, let us continue to pray for tormented Ukraine – I can see the flags here – and for the populations of Palestine and Israel. Peace is possible. It takes good will. Peace is possible. Let us not resign ourselves to war! And let us not forget that war is always, always, always a defeat. The only ones to gain are arms manufacturers.

Video Prayer for Peace, November 22, 2023

We all feel the pain of the wars. You know that since the Second World War ended until today, wars have followed in many parts of the world. When they are far away from us, we do not feel them as much. Today there are two very near that force us to react: Ukraine and the Holy Land. What is happening in the Holy Land is very painful. It is very painful. The Palestinian people, the people of Israel, have the right to peace. They have the right to live in peace. These are two fraternal peoples. Let us pray for peace in the Holy Land. Let us pray that the difficulties resolve themselves in dialogue and negotiation and not with a mountain of dead on each side. Please, let us pray for peace in the Holy Land. [VIDEO from Vatican News.]

Angelus Prayer, November 26, 2023

Yesterday tormented Ukraine commemorated the Holodomor, the genocide perpetrated by the Soviet regime which, 90 years ago, caused millions of people to starve to death. That lacerating wound, instead of healing, is made even more painful by the atrocities of the war that continues to make that dear nation suffer. For all peoples torn apart by conflicts, let us continue to pray tirelessly, because prayer is the force of peace that stops the spiral of hatred, that breaks the cycle of revenge and opens up unexpected paths of reconciliation. Today let us thank God that there is finally a truce between Israel and Palestine, and some hostages have been freed. Let us pray that they will all be freed as soon as possible – think of their families! –, that more humanitarian aid will enter Gaza, and that dialogue is insisted upon: it is the only way, the only way to achieve peace. Those do not want dialogue do not want peace.

Angelus Prayer, December 3, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

In Israel and Palestine the situation is serious. It pains us that the truce has been broken: this means death, destruction, misery. Many hostages have been freed, but many are still in Gaza. Let us think about them, their families who had seen a light, a hope to embrace their loved ones again. In Gaza there is much suffering; there is a lack of basic necessities. I hope that all those who are involved may reach a new ceasefire agreement as soon as possible and find solutions other than weapons, trying to take courageous paths to peace. 

I wish to assure my prayer for the victims of the attack that occurred this morning in the Philippines, where a bomb exploded during Mass. I am close to the families and the people of Mindanao, who have already suffered so much.

Angelus Prayer, December 10, 2023

And we continue to pray for the populations who are suffering because of war. We are heading toward Christmas: Are we able, with God’s help, to take concrete steps of peace? It is not easy; we know that. Certain conflicts have historically deep roots. But we also have the testimony of men and women who have worked wisely and patiently for peaceful coexistence. Let their example be followed! Let every effort be put toward addressing and removing the causes of conflict, while at the same time – speaking of human rights – protecting civilians, hospitals, places of worship, freeing hostages and guaranteeing human rights. Let us not forget battered Ukraine, Palestine, Israel.

General Audience, December 13, 2023

I am continuing to follow the war in Israel and in Palestine, with great concern.

I renew my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. There is much suffering there. I encourage all the parties involved to resume negotiations, and I ask everyone to make an urgent commitment to ensure that humanitarian aid will reach the people of Gaza, who are at the end of their tether and in great need of it.

May all the hostages be freed. They had seen some hope in the recent truce. May the enormous suffering of the Israelis and the Palestinians end.

Please: no to weapons, yes to peace!

Angelus Prayer, December 17, 2023

Today I want to remember the thousands of migrants who try to cross through the Darién jungle between Colombia and Panama. It’s often families with children who venture along dangerous paths, deceived by those who falsely promise them short and safe passage, mistreated and robbed. Not a few lose their lives in the jungle. Combined efforts are needed by the countries more directly affected and the international community to prevent this tragic situation from passing unnoticed, and to provide together a humanitarian response.

And let us not forget our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of war, in Ukraine, in Palestine and Israel, and in other conflict zones. As Christmas approaches, may the dedication to open paths of peace be strengthened.

I continue receiving very serious and sad news about Gaza. Unarmed civilians are targets for bombs and gunfire. And this has happened even within the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities, sisters. A mother and her daughter, Mrs. Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, were killed, and other people were wounded by the shooters while they were going to the bathroom… The house of the Sisters of Mother Teresa was damaged, their generator was hit. Some are saying, “This is terrorism and war”. Yes, it is war, it is terrorism. That is why Scripture says that “God puts an end to war…the bow he breaks and the spear he snaps” (cf. Ps 46:9). Let us pray to the Lord for peace.

General Audience, December 20, 2023

Let us not forget the people and peoples who are suffering from the evils of war. Wars are always a defeat. Let us not forget this. A defeat. The only ones who benefit are arms manufacturers. Please let us think of Palestine and Israel. Let us think of Ukraine — the Ambassador is here — martyred Ukraine that suffers greatly. And let us think of children in wars — the things they see. Let us go to the Nativity scene and ask Jesus for peace. He is the Prince of Peace.

Angelus Prayer, December 24, 2023

I wish you all a happy Sunday and a Christmas Eve in prayer, in the warmth of affection, and in soberness. Let me make one recommendation: let us not confuse celebration with consumerism! We can – and as Christians we must – celebrate in simplicity, without waste, and by sharing with those who lack necessities or lack companionship. We are close to our brothers and sisters who suffer from war. We think of Palestine, Israel, Ukraine. We also think of those who suffer from misery, from hunger, from slavery. May the God who took a human heart for Himself infuse humanity into the hearts of men!

Urbi et Orbi Message, December 25, 2023 (excerpted) 

The eyes and the hearts of Christians throughout the world turn to Bethlehem; in these days, it is a place of sorrow and silence, yet it was there that the long-awaited message was first proclaimed: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). Those words spoken by the angel in the heavens above Bethlehem are also spoken to us. We are full of hope and trust as we realize that the Lord has been born for us; that the eternal Word of the Father, the infinite God, has made his home among us. He became flesh; he came “to dwell among us” (Jn 1:14). This is the good news that changed the course of history! ... Brothers and sisters, today in Bethlehem, amid the deep shadows covering the land, an undying flame has been lighted. Today the world’s darkness has been overcome by the light of God, which “enlightens every man and woman” (Jn 1:9). Brothers and sisters, let us exult in this gift of grace! Rejoice, you who have lost confidence in your certitudes, for you are not alone: Christ is born for you! Rejoice, you who have abandoned all hope, for God offers you his outstretched hand; he does not point a finger at you, but offers you his little baby hand, in order to set you free from your fears, to relieve you of your burdens and to show you that, in his eyes, you are more valuable than anything else. Rejoice, you who find no peace of heart, for the ancient prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled for your sake: “a child has been born for us, a son given to us, and he is named… Prince of Peace” (9:6). Scripture reveals that his peace, his kingdom, “will have no end” (9:7).

In the Scriptures, the Prince of Peace is opposed by the “Prince of this world” (Jn 12:31), who, by sowing the seeds of death, plots against the Lord, “the lover of life” (cf. Wis 11:26). We see this played out in Bethlehem, where the birth of the Saviour is followed by the slaughter of the innocents. How many innocents are being slaughtered in our world! In their mothers’ wombs, in odysseys undertaken in desperation and in search of hope, in the lives of all those little ones whose childhood has been devastated by war. They are the little Jesuses of today, these little ones whose childhood has been devastated by war.

To say “yes” to the Prince of Peace, then, means saying “no” to war, to every war and to do so with courage, to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly. This is what war is: an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly. To say “no” to war means saying “no” to weaponry. The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them. And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise? Today, as at the time of Herod, the evil that opposes God’s light hatches its plots in the shadows of hypocrisy and concealment. How much violence and killing takes place amid deafening silence, unbeknownst to many! People, who desire not weapons but bread, who struggle to make ends meet and desire only peace, have no idea how many public funds are being spent on arms. Yet that is something they ought to know! It should be talked about and written about, so as to bring to light the interests and the profits that move the puppet-strings of war.

Isaiah, who prophesied the Prince of Peace, looked forward to a day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation”, a day when men “will not learn war any more”, but instead “beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” (2:4). With God’s help, let us make every effort to work for the coming of that day!

May it come in Israel and Palestine, where war is devastating the lives of those peoples. I embrace them all, particularly the Christian communities of Gaza, the parish of Gaza, and the entire Holy Land. My heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October last, and I reiterate my urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage. I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid. May there be an end to the fueling of violence and hatred. And may the Palestinian question come to be resolved through sincere and persevering dialogue between the parties, sustained by strong political will and the support of the international community. Brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace in Palestine and in Israel.

My thoughts turn likewise to the people of war-torn Syria, and to those of long-suffering Yemen. I think too of the beloved Lebanese people, and I pray that political and social stability will soon be attained.

Contemplating the Baby Jesus, I implore peace for Ukraine. Let us renew our spiritual and human closeness to its embattled people, so that through the support of each of us, they may feel the concrete reality of God’s love. ...

General Audience, January 3, 2024

And let us not forget about people who are experiencing war. War is madness. War is always a defeat. Let us pray. Let us pray for the people in Palestine, in Israel, in Ukraine and in many other places where there is war. And let us not forget our Rohingya brothers who are being persecuted.

Angelus Prayer, January 6, 2024 

Sixty years ago, in these very days, Pope Saint Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem, breaking down a wall of incommunicability that had kept Catholics and Orthodox apart for centuries. Let us learn from the embrace of those two great men of the Church on the path to Christian unity, praying together, walking together, working together.

And thinking of that historic gesture of fraternity in Jerusalem, let us pray for peace, for peace in the Middle East, in Palestine, in Israel, in Ukraine, all over the world. So many victims of war, so many deaths, so much destruction… Let us pray for peace. I express my closeness to the Iranian people, in particular the relatives of the many victims of the terrorist attack that occurred in Kerman, the many who were injured and all those who were affected by this great suffering.

Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, January 8, 2024  [Full Text]

... Here, in your presence, I cannot fail to reiterate my deep concern regarding the events taking place in Palestine and Israel. All of us remain shocked by the October 7 attack on the Israeli people, in which great numbers of innocent persons were horribly wounded, tortured, and murdered, and many taken hostage. I renew my condemnation of this act and of every instance of terrorism and extremism. This is not the way to resolve disputes between peoples; those disputes are only aggravated and cause suffering for everyone. Indeed, the attack provoked a strong Israeli military response in Gaza that has led to the death of tens of thousands of Palestinians, mainly civilians, including many young people and children, and has caused an exceptionally grave humanitarian crisis and inconceivable suffering.

To all the parties involved I renew my appeal for a cease-fire on every front, including Lebanon, and the immediate liberation of all the hostages held in Gaza. I ask that the Palestinian people receive humanitarian aid, and that hospitals, schools and places of worship receive all necessary protection.

It is my hope that the international community will pursue with determination the solution of two states, one Israeli and one Palestinian, as well as an internationally guaranteed special status for the City of Jerusalem, so that Israelis and Palestinians may finally live in peace and security.

The present conflict in Gaza further destabilizes a fragile and tension-filled region. In particular, we cannot forget the Syrian people, living in a situation of economic and political instability aggravated by last February’s earthquake. May the international community encourage the parties involved to undertake a constructive and serious dialogue and to seek new solutions, so that the Syrian people need no longer suffer as a result of international sanctions. In addition, I express my profound distress for the millions of Syrian refugees still present in neighbouring countries like Jordan and Lebanon.

I think in a special way of the beloved Lebanese people, and I express my concern for the social and economic situation that they are experiencing. It is my hope that the institutional stalemate that has even further burdened them will be resolved and that the Land of Cedars will soon have a President. 

...

Moreover, modern wars no longer take place only on clearly defined battlefields, nor do they involve soldiers alone. In a context where it appears that the distinction between military and civil objectives is no longer respected, there is no conflict that does not end up in some way indiscriminately striking the civilian population. The events in Ukraine and Gaza are clear proof of this. We must not forget that grave violations of international humanitarian law are war crimes, and that it is not sufficient to point them out, but also necessary to prevent them. Consequently, there is a need for greater effort on the part of the international community to defend and implement humanitarian law, which seems to be the only way to ensure the defence of human dignity in situations of warfare.

At the beginning of this year, the exhortation of the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes seems especially timely: “On the question of warfare, there are various international conventions, signed by many countries, aimed at rendering military action and its consequences less inhuman… These agreements must be honoured; indeed public authorities and specialists in these matters must do all in their power to improve these conventions and thus bring about a better and more effective curbing of the savagery of war”. Even when exercising the right of legitimate defence, it is essential to adhere to a proportionate use of force.

Perhaps we need to realize more clearly that civilian victims are not “collateral damage”, but men and woman, with names and surnames, who lose their lives. They are children who are orphaned and deprived of their future. They are individuals who suffer from hunger, thirst and cold, or are mutilated as an effect of the power of modern explosives. Were we to be able to look each of them in the eye, call them by name, and learn something of their personal history, we would see war for what it is: nothing other than an immense tragedy, a “useless slaughter”, one that offends the dignity of every person on this earth. 

...

The path to peace also passes through interreligious dialogue, which before all else requires the protection of religious freedom and respect for minorities.  It is painful to note, for example, that an increasing number of countries are adopting models of centralized control over religious freedom, especially by the massive use of technology. In other places, minority religious communities often find themselves in increasingly precarious situations. In some cases, they risk extinction due to a combination of terrorism, attacks on their cultural heritage and more subtle measures such as the proliferation of anti-conversion laws, the manipulation of electoral rules and financial restrictions.

Of particular concern is the rise in acts of anti-Semitism in recent months. Once again, I would reiterate that this scourge must be eliminated from society, especially through education in fraternity and acceptance of others.

Equally troubling is the increase in persecution and discrimination against Christians, especially over the last ten years. At times, this involves nonviolent but socially significant cases of gradual marginalization and exclusion from political and social life and from the exercise of certain professions, even in traditionally Christian lands. Altogether, more than 360 million Christians around the world are experiencing a high level of discrimination and persecution because of their faith, with more and more of them being forced to flee their homelands. ...

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Jubilee [year] is a season of grace that enables us to experience God’s mercy and the gift of his peace. It is also a season of righteousness, in which sins are forgiven, reconciliation prevails over injustice, and the earth can be at rest. For everyone – Christians and non-Christians – the Jubilee can be a time when swords are beaten into ploughshares, a time when one nation will no longer lift up sword against another, nor learn war any more (cf. Is 2:4).

Angelus Prayer, January 14, 2024

And let us not forget those who suffer the cruelty of war in so many parts of the world, especially in Ukraine, Palestine and Israel. At the beginning of the year, we exchanged wishes of peace, but weapons continue to kill and destroy. Let us pray that those who have power over these conflicts reflect on the fact that war is not the way to resolve them, because it sows death among civilians and destroys cities and infrastructure. In other words, today war is in itself a crime against humanity. Let us not forget this: war is in itself a crime against humanity. Peoples need peace! The world needs peace! I heard, a few minutes ago, on the programme “A Sua Immagine”, Father Faltas, vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem: he spoke about educating for peace. We must educate for peace. We can see that we – humanity as a whole – are not yet educated enough to stop all war. Let us always pray for this grace: to educate for peace.

General Audience, January 17, 2024

I express my sympathy and solidarity with the victims, all civilians, of the rocket attack that hit an urban area of Erbil, capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Good relations between neighbours are not built with such actions but with dialogue and cooperation. I ask everyone to avoid any step that increases tension in the Middle East and other scenarios of war. ... And let us not forget the countries that are at war, let us not forget Ukraine, let us not forget Palestine, Israel, let us not forget the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip who are suffering so much. Let us pray for so many victims of war, so many victims. War always destroys, war does not sow love, it sows hatred. War is a true human defeat. Let us pray for the people who suffer in war.

Angelus Prayer, January 21, 2024

In these days, let us pray especially for Christian unity, and let us never tire of invoking the Lord for peace in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, and in many other parts of the world: it is always the weakest who suffer the lack of it. I am thinking of the little ones, of the many injured and killed children, of those deprived of affection, deprived of dreams and of a future. Let us feel the responsibility to pray and build peace for them!

General Audience, January 24, 2024

Next Saturday, 27 January, marks the International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust. May the remembrance and condemnation of that horrible extermination of millions of Jewish people and those of other faiths, which occurred in the first half of the last century, help us all not to forget that the logic of hatred and violence can never be justified, because they negate our very humanity.

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War itself is a negation of humanity. Let us not tire of praying for peace, for an end to conflicts, for a halt to weapons and for relief for stricken populations. I am thinking of the Middle East, of Palestine, of Israel, I am thinking of the disturbing news coming from tormented Ukraine, especially the bombings that hit places frequented by civilians, sowing death, destruction and suffering. I pray for the victims and their loved ones, and I implore everyone, especially those with political responsibility, to protect human life by putting an end to wars. Let us not forget: war is always a defeat, always. The only “winners” - in inverted commas - are the arms manufacturers.

Message on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2024 [transcribed from a video message from Vatican News] 

Be aware of how this path of death, extermination and brutality began. [Intercut images of headlines saying, "Towards the 'exportation of Semites' from Germany," "Forgetting the law of charity," and "Developments regarding the Jewish question"  ] Remembrance is an expression of humanity. Remembrance is a sign of civilization. Remembrance is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity" [intercut with images of Auschwitz-Birkenau]. 

In a January 27 tweet: "May our remembrance and condemnation of the horrible extermination of millions of Jews and people of other faiths, during the last century, help us all not forget that hatred and violence can never be justified, because it denies our very humanity. #WeRemember."

Angelus Prayer, January 28, 2024

For three years now, the cries of pain and the noise of weapons have replaced the smiles that used to characterize the people of Myanmar. I join the call of some Burmese bishops "in order that weapons of destruction may be transformed into instruments for the growth of humanity and justice." Peace is a journey, and I invite all parties involved to take steps in dialogue and to clothe themselves in understanding so that the land of Myanmar may reach the goal of fraternal reconciliation. The transit of humanitarian aid must be allowed, in order to ensure that the basic necessities of every person may be met.

The same must happen in the Middle East, in Palestine and Israel, and wherever there is conflict: the populations must be respected! I always think intensely of all victims, especially of those who are civilians, who are killed by the war in Ukraine. Please, listen to their cry for peace: it is the cry of the people, who are tired of violence and want the war to stop. It is a disaster for the peoples and a defeat for humanity!

To My Jewish Brothers and Sisters in Israel, Febuary 2, 2024

[This is a reply to the November 12, 2023 "Open Letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis, and the Faithful of the Catholic Church" that was signed by over four hundreds Jewish scholars and rabbis.

https://ccjr.us/dialogika-resources/documents-and-statements/roman-catholic/francis/francis-2024feb2 

General Audience, February 7, 2024 

And let us not forget about the wars, let us not forget tormented Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, the Rohingyas, the many, many wars that are everywhere. Let us pray for peace. War is always a defeat, always. Let us pray for peace. We need peace!

Angelus Prayer, February 11, 2024

[O]n this Day, brothers and sisters, we cannot remain silent about the fact that there are many people today who are denied the right to [health] care, and thus the right to life! I am thinking of those who live in extreme poverty; but I am also thinking of war zones: fundamental human rights are violated there every day! It is intolerable. Let us pray for martyred Ukraine, for Palestine and Israel, let us pray for Myanmar and for all peoples who are tormented by war.

General Audience, February 14, 2024

[M]y thoughts turn to young people, to the elderly, to the sick and to newlyweds. Lent begins today. Let us prepare ourselves to experience this time as an opportunity for conversion and inner renewal, in listening to the Word of God, and in caring for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. And let us never forget tormented Ukraine, Palestine and Israel, which are all suffering a great deal. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters of ours who are suffering due to war. Let us move forward in the process of conversion [repentance], in listening to the Word of God, in caring for our brothers and sisters in need; and let us move forward in intensifying our prayers, especially to ask for peace in the world.

Angelus Prayer, February 18, 2024

Let us pray for peace to return to that tormented region [of Mozambique]. And let us not forget the many other conflicts that bloody the African continent and many parts of the world: also Europe, Palestine, Ukraine...

Let us not forget: war is a defeat, always. Wherever there is fighting, the populations are exhausted, they are tired of war, which as always is useless and inconclusive, and will only bring death, only destruction, and will never bring the solution to the problems. Instead, let us pray tirelessly, because prayer is effective, and let us ask the Lord for the gift of minds and hearts that are concretely dedicated to peace.

General Audience, February 28, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not forget the peoples suffering because of war: Ukraine, Palestine, Israel and so many others. And let us pray for the victims of the recent attacks on places of worship in Burkina Faso; as well as for the people of Haiti, where crimes and kidnappings by armed gangs continue.

 Angelus Prayer, March 3, 2024

I carry daily in my heart, with sorrow, the suffering of the populations in Palestine and in Israel, due to the ongoing hostilities. The thousands of dead, wounded, displaced, and the immense destruction cause suffering, and this has tremendous consequences on the small and the defenceless, who see their future compromised. I ask myself: do we really think we can build a better world in this way? Do we really think we can achieve peace? Enough, please! Let us all say it: enough, please! Stop! I encourage the continuation of negotiations for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and in the entire region, so that the hostages may be freed immediately and return to their anxiously awaiting loved ones, and the civilian population can have safe access to urgently needed humanitarian aid. And please let us not forget tormented Ukraine, where so many die every day. There is so much pain there.

The 5th of March marks the second International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness. How many resources are wasted on military spending that, as a result of the current situation, sadly continues to increase! I sincerely hope that the international community understands that disarmament is first and foremost a duty: disarmament is a moral duty. Let us keep this clearly in our minds. And this requires the courage of all members of the great family of nations to move from an equilibrium of fear to an equilibrium of trust.

General Audience, March 6, 2024

Once again brothers and sisters, I renew my invitation to pray for the people who are suffering from the horror of war in Ukraine and in the Holy Land, and in other parts of the world. Let us pray for peace. Let us ask the Lord for the gift of peace!

Angelus Prayer, March 10, 2024

I affectionately welcome the Catholic community of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Rome. Let us pray for peace in this country, as well as in tormented Ukraine and in the Holy Land. May the hostilities that cause immense suffering among the civilian population cease as soon as possible.

General Audience, March 13, 2024

And please let us persevere in our heartfelt prayers for those who suffer from the terrible consequences of war. Today, they brought me a rosary and a Gospel that had belonged to a young soldier who died at the front: he used to pray with this. Many young people, many young people go to their death. Let us pray to the Lord that he may give us the grace to win against the madness of war, which is always a defeat. I offer my blessing to all of you.

Angelus Prayer, March 17, 2024

Let us continue to pray for the populations tormented by war, in Ukraine, Palestine and Israel, and in Sudan. And let us not forget Syria, a country that has suffered greatly for a long time because of war.

General Audience, March 20, 2024

Let us also entrust to Saint Joseph the people of tormented Ukraine and the Holy Land — Palestine, Israel — who are greatly suffering the horror of war. And let us never forget that war is always a defeat. One cannot move forward in war. We must make every effort to negotiate, to negotiate, to end the war. Let us pray for this.

Angelus Prayer, Palm Sunday, March 24, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble and peaceful king; let us open our hearts to him! Only he can free us from wickedness, hatred and violence, because he is mercy and the forgiveness of sins. Let us pray for all our brothers and sisters who suffer as a result of war; in a special way, I think of tormented Ukraine, where so many people find themselves without electricity because of the intense attacks on infrastructure, which, besides causing death and suffering, bring the risk of an even greater humanitarian catastrophe. Please, let us not forget tormented Ukraine! And let us think of Gaza, which is suffering a great deal, and so many other places of war.

General Audience, March 27, 2024

Brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace. May the Lord grant us peace in tormented Ukraine, which is suffering greatly from the bombings, as well as in Israel and Palestine. May there be peace in the Holy Land. May the Lord grant us all peace, as a gift of his Easter.

Urbi et Orbi Message, March 31, 2024

Jesus alone opens up before us the doors of life, those doors that continually we shut with the wars spreading throughout the world. Today we want, first and foremost, to turn our eyes to the Holy City of Jerusalem, that witnessed the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and to all the Christian communities of the Holy Land.

My thoughts go especially to the victims of the many conflicts worldwide, beginning with those in Israel and Palestine, and in Ukraine. May the risen Christ open a path of peace for the war-torn peoples of those regions.  In calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express my hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine: all for the sake of all!

I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on 7 October last and for an immediate cease-fire in the Strip.

Let us not allow the current hostilities to continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population, by now at the limit of its endurance, and above all on the children. How much suffering we see in the eyes of the children: the children in those lands at war have forgotten how to smile! With those eyes, they ask us: Why? Why all this death? Why all this destruction?  War is always an absurdity, war is always a defeat! Let us not allow the strengthening winds of war to blow on Europe and the Mediterranean. Let us not yield to the logic of weapons and rearming. Peace is never made with arms, but with outstretched hands and open hearts.

Brothers and sisters, let us not forget Syria, which for thirteen years has suffered from the effects of a long and devastating war. So many deaths and disappearances, so much poverty and destruction, call for a response on the part of everyone, and of the international community.

My thoughts turn today in a special way to Lebanon, which has for some time experienced institutional impasse and a deepening economic and social crisis, now aggravated by the hostilities on its border with Israel. May the Risen Lord console the beloved Lebanese people and sustain the entire country in its vocation to be a land of encounter, coexistence and pluralism.

I also think in particular of the region of the Western Balkans, where significant steps are being taken towards integration in the European project. May ethnic, cultural and confessional differences not be a cause of division, but rather a source of enrichment for all of Europe and for the world as a whole.

I likewise encourage the discussions taking place between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so that, with the support of the international community, they can pursue dialogue, assist the displaced, respect the places of worship of the various religious confessions, and arrive as soon as possible at a definitive peace agreement.

May the risen Christ open a path of hope to all those who in other parts of the world are suffering from violence, conflict, food insecurity and the effects of climate change. May the Lord grant consolation to the victims of terrorism in all its forms. Let us pray for all those who have lost their lives and implore the repentance and conversion of the perpetrators of those crimes.

May the risen Lord assist the Haitian people, so that there can soon can be an end to the acts of violence, devastation and bloodshed in that country, and that it can advance on the path to democracy and fraternity.

May Christ grant consolation and strength to the Rohingya, beset by a grave humanitarian crisis, and open a path to reconciliation in Myanmar, torn for years now by internal conflicts, so that every logic of violence may be definitively abandoned.

May the Lord open paths of peace on the African continent, especially for the suffering peoples in Sudan and in the entire region of the Sahel, in the Horn of Africa, in the region of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the province of Capo Delgado in Mozambique, and bring an end to the prolonged situation of drought which affects vast areas and provokes famine and hunger.

May the Risen One make the light of his face shine upon migrants and on all those who are passing through a period of economic difficulty, and offer them consolation and hope in their moment of need. May Christ guide all persons of good will to unite themselves in solidarity, in order to address together the many challenges which loom over the poorest families in their search for a better life and happiness.

Angelus Prayer, April 1, 2024

I renew my Easter greetings to all, and I sincerely thank those who, in various ways, have sent me messages of closeness and prayer. May the gift of the peace of the Risen Lord be granted to these individuals, families and communities. And may this gift of peace reach where it is most needed: to the peoples exhausted by war, by hunger, by every form of oppression.

General Audience, April 3, 2024

Unfortunately, sad news continues to come from the Middle East. I reiterate my firm call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. I express my deep regret for the volunteers killed while engaged in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza. I pray for them and their families. I renew my appeal for the exhausted and suffering civilian population to be given access to humanitarian aid and for the hostages to be released immediately. Let us avoid all irresponsible attempts to broaden the conflict in the region, and let us work so that this and other wars that continue to bring death and suffering to so many parts of the world may end as soon as possible. Let us pray and work tirelessly for weapons to be silenced and for peace to reign once again.

And let us not forget tormented Ukraine; so many dead! I hold in my hands a rosary and a book of the New Testament left by a soldier who died in the war. This boy was called Oleksandr, Alexander, and he was 23 years old. Alexander read the New Testament and the Psalms, and in the Book of Psalms he had underlined Psalm 130: “Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord! Lord, hear my voice!”. This 23-year-old boy died in Avdiïvka, in the war. He had his life ahead of him. And this is his rosary and his New Testament, which he read and prayed. I would like us to take a moment of silence, all of us, thinking about this boy and many others like him who died in this folly of war. War always destroys! Let us think of them, and let us pray.

Angelus Prayer, April 7, 2024

Let us not cease to pray for peace, a just and lasting peace, especially for martyred Ukraine and for Palestine and Israel. May the Spirit of the Risen Lord enlighten and sustain those who work to reduce tensions and encourage gestures that make negotiations possible. May the Lord give leaders the ability to pause a little in order to deliberate, to negotiate.

General Audience, April 10, 2024

My thoughts turn to tormented Ukraine, and to Palestine and Israel. May the Lord give us peace! War is everywhere! Let us not forget Myanmar. But let us ask the Lord for peace, and may we not forget these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer greatly in these war-torn places. Let us pray together and always for peace. Thank you.

Angelus Prayer, April 14, 2024 [Iran launched drones and missiles against Israel on April 13] 

Dear brothers and sisters!

I am following in prayer and with concern, even pain, the news that has reached us in the last few hours regarding the worsening of the situation in Israel, due to the intervention by Iran. I make a heartfelt appeal to halt any action that might fuel a spiral of violence, with the risk of dragging the Middle East into an even greater military conflict.

No-one should threaten the existence of others. May all the nations instead take the side of peace, and help Israelis and Palestinians live in two States, side by side, in safety. It is their deep and legitimate desire, and it is their right! Two neighbouring States.

Let there be a ceasefire in Gaza soon, and let us pursue the paths of negotiation, with determination. Let us help that population, plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe; let the hostages kidnapped months ago be released! So much suffering! Let us pray for peace. No more war, no more attacks, no more violence! Yes to dialogue and yes to peace! ...

Let us pray, brothers and sisters, for the children who suffer because of the wars – there are many of them! – in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, and in other parts of the world, in Myanmar. Let us pray for them, and for peace.