The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem reportedly said Monday that he would go to great lengths to obtain the freedom of those children captured by Hamas terrorists, even offering himself as an exchange for their safety.
“I am ready for an exchange, anything, if this can lead to freedom, to bring the children home,” Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa told journalists in Italy during a video conference on Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported. “No problem. There is total willingness on my part.”
A patriarch is one of the top ranking bishops in the Catholic Church, and the Latin Patriarch is the title given to the Latin Rite Roman Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem.
“The first thing to do is to try to win the release of the hostages, otherwise there will be no way of stopping (an escalation). We are willing to help, even me personally,” he said, the publication reported.
Pizzaballa and his office have not had direct contact with Hamas, he told the journalists, adding: “You can’t talk to Hamas. It is very difficult.”
Hamas terrorists killed more than 1,400 people in a surprise attack on October 7, according to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) estimates. These terrorists control Gaza, where the Palestinian health ministry says more than 2,600 people have died from Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
Israel has warned Gazans to evacuate as they prepare to strike back against Hamas, but Hamas has warned residents to ignore these directions and stay put. Israeli Defense Forces believe this is because Hamas terrorists are using civilian presence as a shield.
President Joe Biden has also said that Gaza is using civilians as a shield at a Human Rights Campaign dinner on Saturday.
And the Vatican has expressed willingness to help mediate a peace agreement, according to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who said in an interview with Vatican Media: “I do not know how much room for dialogue there can be between Israel and the Hamas militia, but if there is—and we hope there is—it should be pursued immediately and without delay. This is to avoid further bloodshed, as is happening in Gaza, where many innocent civilian victims have been caused by the Israeli army’s attacks.”
In a statement issued Oct. 11, Pizzaballa called for prayer and fasting for peace, condemning the violence and hatred without specifically naming Hamas or Israel.
“We ask that on Tuesday, October 17, everyone hold a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer,” the Latin Patriarch said. “Let us organize prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary. Although most probably in many parts of our dioceses circumstances will not permit large gatherings, it is possible to organize simple and sober common moments of prayer in parishes, religious communities, and families.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, pro-Palestine students have been holding rallies expressing support for the attacks on Israel and praising the Hamas terrorists who have died in these attacks as martyrs.
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