08 January 2024, The Tablet

Pope Francis pleads for peace and condemns surrogacy

The Pope was making his annual “State of the World” address to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.

Pope Francis pleads for peace and condemns surrogacy

Pope Francis greets the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, who he received in private audience.
Independent Photo Agency/Alamy Live News

Pope Francis today regretted that a year the international community had hoped to be one of peace had instead dawned “amid conflict and division”.

Addressing members of the diplomatic corps at the Benediction Hall in Rome, where an ambassador for Oman was present for the first time after diplomatic relations were established with the sultanate last year, Pope Francis said this was a moment in history when peace “is increasingly threatened, weakened and in part lost”.

He also attacked surrogacy and called for a worldwide ban, saying: “I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother's material needs. Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.”

It was the role of the Holy See to be a prophetic voice and appeal to consciences, he added, reiterating his “deep concern” regarding 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.

Pope Francis renewed his appeal for a ceasefire on every front, including Lebanon, and the immediate liberation of all the hostages held in Gaza.

He called for the Palestinian people receive humanitarian aid and for hospitals, schools and places of worship to be protected. He appealed also for the two-state solution to be pursued with a special status for Jerusalem.

“The present conflict in Gaza further destabilises a fragile and tension-filled region,” he added.

Pope Francis also called for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine and referred to other parts of the world affected by conflict and climate change, such as Sudan.

Referring again to Gaza and Ukraine, he continued: “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.”

He continued: “We need to realise 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.”

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99