He received them minutes before the start of the General Audience Photo: Vatican Media

Palestinians and Israelis tell Pope of their plight: “I have heard how they suffer from each other,” says Francis

After both meetings, both Palestinians and Israelis held press conferences in the Italian capital. Both have stressed that the Pope listened to their stories

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 11.22.2023).- Minutes before the start of the general audience that the Pope holds weekly in St. Peter’s Square, Francis received two separate groups of people: on one hand, relatives of Gazans caught in the midst of Israeli bombings in Gaza (including some who have managed to leave there thanks to their dual nationality); on the other hand, relatives of people kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas, a kidnapping that dates back to the origin of the recent conflict on October 7.

After both meetings, both Palestinians and Israelis held press conferences in the Italian capital. Both emphasized that the Pope listened to their stories, and the fact that they came to the Vatican City reflects the idea that the Pope’s voice is heard by everyone. The Holy See Press Office has emphasized that these are humanitarian meetings.


Fue un encuentro de carácter exclusivamente humanitario en el que el Santo Padre expresó su cercanía espiritual con quienes sufren los efectos devastadores del conflicto en Tierra Santa. (Vatican Media)


“Pope Francis is not only the spiritual leader of two billion Christians but also an unquestionable moral authority worldwide,” said Rachel, a mother of a son kidnapped by Hamas. She added, “He is also listened to a lot in the Muslim world, which is especially important for us. And his voice influences the powerful of the earth to make them aware that the priority today is to free all hostages. If the first 50 are released today, we must not forget that up to 190 remain in the hands of the kidnappers. Above all, I hope that the Red Cross can soon visit the hostages; I think of my son injured in an arm, but also of all the others. I also want to thank the Vatican media for how they follow our suffering: I hope they can soon interview my son, who has finally been released.”

At the end of this Wednesday’s general audience on November 22, the Pope said with a clear and heartfelt voice: “And let us not forget to persevere in prayer for those who suffer because of wars in many parts of the world, especially for the beloved people of Ukraine, tormented Ukraine, and of Israel and Palestine. This morning I received two delegations, one of Israelis with relatives held hostage in Gaza and another of Palestinians with relatives suffering in Gaza. They suffer a lot, and I have heard how they suffer from both sides: wars do that, but here we have gone beyond wars; this is not war, this is terrorism. Please, let us advance for peace, let us pray for peace, let us pray much for peace. May the Lord put His hand there, may the Lord help us to solve the problems and not to continue with passions that ultimately kill everyone. Let us pray for the Palestinian people, let us pray for the Israeli people, for peace to come.”

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