Gaza, October 7, 2023 (Photo: Ansa/Epa/Mohammed Saber)

Pizzaballa: “No to violence. Let us pray for peace"

Following the Hamas attack on Israel, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem speaks of his pain and concern for what is happening. "It is not enough not to want war. It is necessary to engage in different perspectives". The interview from Avvenire
Mimmo Muolo

"Condemning" the violence, "great concern" for what has happened and the "feeling that there the situation could escalate further.” This is how Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, describes his feelings after the Hamas attack on Israel. Currently in Italy to take part in the Synod, the newly appointed cardinal (now in Bergamo, his home diocese) does not hide his sorrow.

What makes you think there could be an escalation?
First of all, the extent of the attack and the numerous kidnappings of Israelis, also civilians. These are definitely new factors, which add to the climate of great distrust. I hope of course that I am wrong, but I fear that the situation will escalate further. There will be retaliation followed by retaliation.

In fact, even the Israeli authorities, led by Netanyahu, have spoken of an act of war and not 'just' a terrorist attack.
Which, unfortunately, confirms my feeling.

But was it an unexpected attack, or were there warning signs?
The territories have always been a volcano ready to explode. I think, however, that at least on the part of Israel, this situation in its manner came as a surprise.

What can be done now? Is it to be welcomed that with the exception of Iran, the international community has unanimously condemned the attack?
Certainly. First of all, the violence must be stopped and then diplomatic pressure must be applied to prevent the dynamics of retaliation from becoming a vicious cycle from which it is difficult to escape. We should then try to restore a minimum of reasonableness between the parties. Even if it seems difficult at the moment.

Have you been able to speak with the Pope.
I have consulted with the Holy See and the Pope is aware of the situation.

Is he expected to make an appeal at the Angelus?
Of course I cannot answer for the Pope, but I hope so. His voice is important.

What situation are the Christian faithful in?
The same as everyone's. The war has no regard for anyone. Of course, Christians are a community that has already been very tested and this situation certainly does not help.

Sometimes it seems that the majority of the population, both Israeli and Palestinian, strongly wants peace, but is almost held hostage by the groups that fan the flames of war.
Yes, the population is tired of this, but it is still true that there is a lot of mistrust. It is not enough not to want war. One must engage in different perspectives, if only to foster good neighbourly relations. Although I see this as difficult on both sides.

What is your appeal at this time, so that the conflict does not spread to Lebanon, for example?
May all religious leaders do their utmost to diffuse the situation and calm tempers. Let no one add more petrol to the fire. And I wish for prayer for peace. Already today we are launching initiatives for this in all our churches.

Read the original interview on Avvenire