Pope calls for cease-fire in Holy Land; Vatican-Iranian diplomats talk

A child is near a sign that says "Pace," peace in Italian, as visitors gather to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 29, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The day after Pope Francis called for a cease-fire in the Holy Land, his foreign minister spoke by phone with the foreign minister of Iran, "reiterating the absolute need to avoid escalating the conflict," the Vatican press office said.

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister, spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian Oct. 30 at the Iranian leader's request, said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office.

During the conversation, he said, Archbishop Gallagher "expressed the Holy See's serious concern about what is happening in Israel and Palestine, reiterating the absolute need to avoid escalating the conflict." Iran is considered a supporter of Hamas, and Amirabdollahian, in mid-October, had called on Israel to stop its military action in Gaza or face the possibility of a "huge earthquake" of fighting throughout the region.

The archbishop also repeated the Holy See's view that the international community must get serious about supporting the "two-state solution" -- Israel and an independent Palestine within recognized borders -- "for a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East."

After reciting the Angelus Oct. 29 with visitors in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis again called for the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza and the opening of humanitarian corridors to deliver aid to the region, which has been under siege since Hamas militants attacked southern Israel Oct. 7, killing military and civilians and taking hostages, mostly the elderly, women and children.

"Let no one abandon the possibility that the weapons might be silenced -- let there be a cease-fire," Pope Francis said.

The pope told the crowd he had just seen Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas, vicar of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, on an Italian television program saying, "Let the arms cease! Let the arms cease!"

"With Father Ibrahim, let us, too, say: Let the arms cease," he said. "Stop, brothers and sisters, war is always a defeat -- always!"



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