World leaders must ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the people affected by the ongoing wars in Gaza and Sudan, Pope Francis said.
« In Gaza, let the wounded be rescued immediately, let civilians be protected, let far more humanitarian aid be allowed to reach that stricken population, » he said after praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 12. « May the hostages be freed, including the elderly and children. »
Hamas militants held 239 Israeli hostages in Gaza as of Nov. 12. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Nov. 11 that a cease-fire in Gaza would be possible only after a release of all the hostages.
Yet the next day the pope publicly asked that « the weapons be stopped. »
« They will never lead to peace, » he said. « And may the conflict not widen. Enough! Enough, brothers! »
« Every human being — Christian, Jewish, Muslim — of any people or religion, every human being is sacred, is precious in the eyes of God and has the right to live in peace, » the pope added, asking people to « pray and work tirelessly so that the sense of humanity may prevail over hardness of heart. »
He also appealed to leaders to support access to humanitarian aid in Sudan, where a civil conflict that began in April has led to the deaths of more than 9,000 people and displaced 5.6 million. The pope asked Sudanese leaders to « work in search of peaceful solutions » with the help of the international community.
« I am close to the sufferings of those dear populations of Sudan, » he said. « Let us not forget these brothers and sisters of ours who are in distress. »
Noting the many Ukrainian flags waved by visitors in St. Peter’s Square, the pope greeted a group of pilgrims celebrating 400 years since the martyrdom of St. Josaphat — a Basilian monk born in Ukraine — and asked that people not forget « tormented Ukraine. »