Expressing profound sorrow and anguish over the casualties and suffering caused by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, India’s Catholic bishops are urging prayers for lasting peace in the region.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) expressed solidarity with all the affected families, in a statement issued by its president, Archbishop Andrews Thazhath.
“Innocent lives have been lost on both sides, leaving behind a trail of pain and suffering. It is our fervent hope that both nations can come together to seek a peaceful resolution,” said the prelate.
Thazhath expressed hopes that the leadership of Israel and Palestine find the inspiration to “prioritize peace and dialogue over violence”.
Archbishop Felix Machado, secretary general of the CBCI, urged the faithful to “join us in praying for the safety of all, especially our Indian brothers and sisters living in the affected region, and for an enduring peace that will bring an end to this conflict.”
Machado said the bishops’ conference extends its support to those affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict, encouraging the public to “unite in prayer for peace, reconciliation, and the well-being of all individuals in the region”.
Meanwhile, Pierbattista Cardinal Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, has called on the faithful of the Holy Land to collectively observe Tuesday, October 17, as a day of prayer, abstinence, and fasting to “present to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice, and reconciliation.”
He expressed the gravity of the situation, saying that the “pain and dismay at what is happening are great”.
“We have suddenly been thrust into a sea of unprecedented violence. Unfortunately, the hatred we have already experienced for too long will intensify, leading to further destruction,” he said.
Pizzaballa stressed the need for prayer to find the strength and serenity necessary to endure these difficult times, saying, “Only in this way can we draw the strength and serenity needed to endure these hard times, by turning to Him, in prayer and intercession, to implore and cry out to God amid this anguish.”
On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, and retaliatory Israeli bombardments have resulted in the deaths of over 2,300 people in the Palestinian enclave.
Tens of thousands of troops have amassed along Gaza’s border in readiness for a possible invasion.
Israel is preparing for a looming Gaza ground invasion aimed at defeating Hamas.
Fear and chaos have gripped the 40-kilometer-long strip, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, with no safe haven for the large numbers of internally displaced Palestinians.
In the midst of these events, U.S. President Joe Biden, in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on October 15: “We must not lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas’s appalling attacks and are suffering as a result of them.”