“We resolutely join our voices with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminding all parties in this conflict that war is never the answer but always a defeat,” Broglio, also the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in the statement. “We plead, ‘peace, please peace!’”
Also speaking out was Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, who took to social media to express his “horror” at the events.
“I am heartbroken at the information provided by Cardinal [Pierbattista] Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, of killings in the church compound of the Catholic Parish of the Holy Family in Gaza City,” the cardinal said in a statement.
“I have immediately sent a message to His Eminence expressing my horror at these events and assuring him of the prayers of Catholics in England and Wales,” he said.
The patriarchate’s statement “gives a picture of seemingly deliberate and callous killing by IDF soldiers of innocent civilians: an elderly woman and her daughter in the grounds of a church,” he said.
“This killing has to stop. It can never be justified.”
In an interview with the British outlet Sky News on Monday, Nichols said he did not believe the denial from the IDF, calling it “hard to believe.”
“[T]he people in Gaza and the cardinal archbishop of Jerusalem, they’re not given to tell lies,” he said.
While stopping short of joining the pope’s characterization of the attack as ”terrorism,” the cardinal said: “It’s certainly a coldblooded killing, that’s the description that is given.”
Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, disputed the cardinal’s remarks during a live interview on Sky News on Monday, saying: “I would reject the categorization of the words he used: ‘coldblooded killing.’ That would indicate a deliberate targeting of civilians; that’s something we don’t do.”
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“We don’t shoot people who are going to church, that just doesn’t happen. That’s not the way the IDF operates,” he added.
“To say that Israel is deliberately targeting Christian worshippers, that’s a terrible accusation that is unfounded.”