The Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and the Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem, Archbishop Antonio Franco, visited the Gaza Strip this week to personally deliver a donation from Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholic community of the region and to express the Pontiff’s spiritual closeness.
In statements to the Italian news agency SIR, the nuncio said, “I have visited the center of Gaza, where I saw much destruction. The damage is gravest on the outskirts.”
The nuncio also recalled that when he celebrated Mass at the Parish of the Holy Family, it was “packed with the faithful.” It was to these people that the archbishop said he brought “the closeness, the prayer and the solidarity of the Pope through a personal donation that is intended to alleviate the sufferings of these days.”
“Solidarity,” he explained, “is fundamental at this time because it is a useful instrument to create conditions of peace and reconciliation.”
Archbishop Franco later added, “I was able to speak with the pastor, Father Musallam, with the sisters and with many other people who have told me their fears and their sufferings.” In addition, he explained, “There is a sense of hope among the people that this ceasefire will allow life to more or less return to normal and that efforts will be made to achieve a true peace. The people are tired of this situation and of this uncertainty of the tomorrow and they want peace.”
“We hope,” he said, “that politicians will concentrate at least a little on the sufferings of the people and find solutions, without falling into power struggles and self-interest.” “I think Obama said it: true solutions for the problems that afflict humanity are what work.”