U.S. bishops renew call for peace after Christian women reportedly killed in Gaza Church

Archbishop Timothy Broglio Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks at the USCCB fall plenary assembly Nov. 14, 2023. | Credit: USCCB video

The U.S. bishops over the weekend renewed their call for peace in the Holy Land amid reports on Saturday that two Christian women were killed by sniper fire from Israeli forces at the Holy Family Parish in Gaza.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on Saturday morning that “around noon” on Dec. 16, a sniper of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families has taken refuge since the start of the war.” Several others were also shot, the statement said.

“No warning was given, no notification was provided,” the patriarchate said.

The IDF denied culpability for the deaths, telling CNA in an emailed statement that “representatives of the church contacted the IDF regarding explosions that were heard near the church” but “no reports of ... civilians being injured or killed were raised.” 

In a statement on Saturday, meanwhile, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for “an immediate cessation of all hostilities, the release of hostages, and for earnest negotiations towards a peaceful resolution of this conflict.”

“At this holy time of Advent in anticipation of the birth of the Prince of Peace, it is with great sadness and horror that we continue to witness the death and destruction of innocent people in the land of Our Lord’s birth,” Broglio said.

Broglio said the U.S. bishops joined in the pope’s renewed call for peace in the Holy Land, which the Holy Father issued at his Sunday Angelus, urging the faithful to “pray to the Lord for peace.”

“[W]e 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 said. “We plead, ‘peace, please peace!’”

The Latin Patriarchate over the weekend also said that rocket fire “targeted” the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Teresa, a Missionaries of Charity house on the grounds of Holy Family Parish. 

The patriarchate said that the home, which had been sheltering 54 disabled persons, was rendered “uninhabitable,” leaving the people without the medical equipment necessary for their care.

The IDF in its statement also said that church officials in conversation had not mentioned reports of “a hit on the church."

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