03 March 2024, The Tablet

‘Enough!’ says Pope in plea for Gaza ceasefire

by Courtney Mares, CNA

“Do you really think you are going to build a better world this way? Do you really think you are going to achieve peace?”

‘Enough!’ says Pope in plea for Gaza ceasefire

Pope Francis pleaded for a deal that would release Israeli hostages held in Gaza and admit humanitarian aid to the region.
Vatican Media / CNA

Pope Francis called for Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza” on Sunday, repeating “Enough!” and “Stop!” from the window of the apostolic palace.

Delivering his Angelus address to crowds in St Peter’s Square on 3 March, the Pope made an emotional plea for a deal that would both free the Israeli hostages immediately and grant humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

“I carry daily in my heart, with sorrow, the suffering of the peoples in Palestine and Israel due to the ongoing hostilities,” Francis said.

“The thousands of dead, the wounded, the displaced, the immense destruction, causes pain, and this with tremendous consequences on the little ones and the defenceless who see their future compromised.

“I wonder: do you really think you are going to build a better world this way? Do you really think you are going to achieve peace? Enough, please! Let us all say: Stop! Please stop!”

The Pope made his appeal as negotiations continued for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. US President Joe Biden said last week that he believed that a ceasefire could go into effect as early as 4 March.

Reports said that Israel had essentially agreed to a six-week ceasefire framework that would include Hamas releasing some of the most vulnerable of the roughly 130 hostages still held in Gaza.

Pope Francis said: “I encourage the continuation of negotiations for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and throughout the region, so that hostages can be freed immediately and return to their anxiously awaiting loved ones, and the civilian population can have safe access to due and urgent humanitarian aid.”

The Pope also remembered “battered Ukraine where so many people are dying every day”.

Francis mentioned a group of young Ukrainians in the square, thanking them for their commitment to helping those who are suffering amid the war. 

The Ukrainians took part in a meeting in Rome organised by the of Sant’Egidio community with the theme “Overcome evil with good”.

Pope Francis also made an appeal for disarmament, calling it “a moral duty” for the international community.

“How many resources are wasted on military expenditures, which, because of the current situation, sadly continue to increase,” he said, noting that 5 March will mark the second International Disarmament and Non-proliferation Awareness Day.

“I sincerely hope that the international community understands that disarmament is first and foremost a duty – disarmament is a moral duty,” he added.

“This requires courage on the part of all members of the great family of nations to move from the balance of fear to the balance of trust.”

In his reflection on Sunday’s reading from St John’s gospel, Pope Francis spoke about Jesus driving the merchants out of the Temple. Francis focused on the difference between “the house of God” and a marketplace.

One goes to “the house of God” to encounter the Lord and to be close to Him, he said, whereas in a market, prices are negotiated and “one seeks one’s own interests”.

“The invitation today, also for our Lenten journey, is to build a greater sense of home and less of a sense of ‘a market’ in ourselves and around us,” Pope Francis said.

“First of all, towards God. How? By praying a lot, like children who knock confidently at the Father’s door without getting tired, and not like greedy and distrustful merchants. And then by spreading fraternity. There is a great need for it.”

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