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Interview with Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

‘As long as weapons speak it will not be possible to hear other voices’

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM looks on after being elevated to the rank of cardinal at the ...
13 October 2023

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, managed to return to the Holy City on 10 October, passing through Jordan. He told L’Osservatore Romano that he found “a frightened country, astonished at what is happening”, adding that he “was certainly expecting an increase in violence, but not in these forms, to this extent and with this brutality”. Cardinal Pizzaballa also said he found “so much anger and so much expectation to receive a word of guidance, of comfort, and also of clarity about what is happening”.

Do you have specific news about the condition of the Christian community in Gaza?

Yes, everyone is fine. Some families have had their homes destroyed, but they are safe. They are all gathered in the premises of the parish and our school, in the assumption that these are not targeted. Of course, they are under great strain. They have enough food for some time, but if the siege situation were to continue, it would be a problem. For the time being, we are happy to know that they are all okay and are gathered in the parish premises.

Many comments have pointed out the unpredictability of the events of these hours, but for months you have been pointing out a gradual escalation of violence that could have degenerated into something even more serious, as is happening now.

It was unfortunately, an easy guess. The escalation of the clash was there for all to see. But an explosion of such violence, scale and brutality no one had foreseen. This, however, puts on the table an issue that had been shelved: the Palestinian question, which perhaps some people thought had been archived. As long as the Palestinian issue, the freedom, dignity and future of the Palestinians are not taken into account in the ways that are necessary today, prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine will be increasingly difficult.

With the fighting going on it is difficult to make predictions, but can you see possible scenarios for the next few hours, for the next few days?

Certainly it is very difficult to make predictions at this time. It is clear that we are not in a military operation but in a declared war. And I fear it will be a very long war. Probably the Israeli response will not be limited to bombing but there will be a ground operation. It is clear that we have suddenly entered a new phase in the life of this country and in the relations between Israel and Palestine. If one can speak of relations.

What would you like to say to the international community?

The international community must start looking again at the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issue with more attention than it has shown so far. And it must work hard to calm the situation, to bring the parties to reasonableness through mediations that are not necessarily public, because public ones will never work. We need support, to condemn all forms of violence, to isolate the violent, and to work relentlessly for a ceasefire. Because as long as weapons speak, it will not be possible to hear other voices.

By Roberto Cetera