The Vatican revealed Friday that Pope Francis, in an effort to continue his work for peace in the Middle East, personally telephoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to voice his grave concern over the escalating situation in the Gaza Strip in which many civilians have lost their lives on all sides of the conflict. The Pope reportedly told the two men that it was time for their respective governments to seek an end to hostilities. “Following last Sunday’s heartfelt appeal for continued prayer for peace in the Holy Land, this morning the Holy Father Francis personally telephoned President Shimon Peres and President Mahmoud Abbas,” the Vatican said in an official Statement from Vatican Information Service (VIS).
The Pontiiff is said to have discussed “very serious concerns regarding the current situation of conflict involving in particular the Gaza Strip which, in a climate of growing hostility, hatred and suffering for the two populations, is claiming many victims and giving rise to a serious humanitarian emergency.”
Pope Francis apparently told both men that the Church was praying for them, and stressed the need not to give up in the work for peace. “As during his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land and on the occasion of the invocation for peace on 8 June, the Holy Father assured them of his ceaseless prayer, and that of all the Church, for peace in the Holy Land,” the Holy See said. “He reminded the presidents, whom he considers to be men of peace and seekers of peace, of the need to continue to pray and endeavour to ensure that all the interested parties and those who hold political office at local and international level work to bring an end to hostilities, making efforts to promote truce, peace and reconciliation in the hearts of those involved.”