Pope Francis & La Salle join appeals for ceasefire

BREAKTHROUGH - The Philippine Star

On Oct. 7, 2023, Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack that resulted in approximately 1,400 Israeli deaths. According to Israeli authorities, most of the casualties were civilians. As a result, Israel declared war on Hamas. The tragedy, however, is that Israel started bombing the whole of the Gaza Strip and the main casualties were the civilian population and not Hamas.

More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed as a result of this indiscriminate bombing. The most tragic part is that more than 4,200 of these more than 10,000 casualties were children.

There is now a growing demand for a ceasefire of hostilities in Gaza.  Understandably, all the Muslim countries have led this demand. However, this demand has been joined by other countries including France, a major ally of the United States, and other countries especially in Latin America.

In the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called Gaza a graveyard for children. The heads of all the 18 major UN agencies issued a rare joint statement expressing outrage at the civilian death toll in Gaza and calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas. The UN statement said:  “… an entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship. This is unacceptable.”

Pope Francis issued a plea for a ceasefire in the Holy Land during his Nov. 5 Sunday Angelus at St. Peter’s Square:

“Dear brothers and sisters!

“I continue to think about the serious situation in Palestine and in Israel where many, many people have lost their lives. In God’s name, I beg you to stop: cease using weapons! I hope that avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict might be absolutely avoided, so that the wounded can be rescued and help might get to the population of Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is extremely serious. May the hostages be freed immediately. There are also many children among them – may they return to their families! Yes, let’s think of the children, of all the children affected by this war, as well as in Ukraine and by other conflicts: this is how their future is being killed. Let us pray that there might be the strength to say, ‘enough.’

“I am near to the population of Nepal who is suffering because of an earthquake, as well as the Afghan refugees who have found refuge in Pakistan but now do not know where to go. I pray also for the victims of the storms and floods in Italy and other countries.

“I warmly greet all of you, people from Rome and pilgrims from various countries. In particular, I greet the members of the faithful from Vienna and from Valencia, the parish group from Cagliari, the band and choir from Longomoso in Upper Adige. I greet the young people from Rodengo Saiano, Ome and Padergnone; the catechists from Cassina de’Pecchi and those from Saint John Bosco parish in Trieste; I greet the ‘Stop the war’ Council.

“I hope you all have a good Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your meal and arrivederci!”

This call to peace has been joined by other Christian institutions. One of them is The International Association of La Salle Universities (IALU).

The IALU, “representative of more than 60 institutions of higher learning in the world as well as hundreds of thousands of students, professors and staff of our international community, joins the call for a ceasefire in the current conflict in Gaza, and as immediate end to violence and harassment against Palestinians in the West Bank.

“In doing so, we echo the words and sentiments expressed by several international organizations and most specially, those coming directly from Pope Francis, who called for an immediate halt to ongoing aggression as well as room to guarantee humanitarian aid and freedom for hostages.

“Our global network includes Bethlehem University in Palestine that has been a beacon of hope since its foundation in 1973, showing unparalleled resilience while staying true to its mission of providing quality higher education to the people of Palestine, and serving them in its role as a center for the advancement, sharing and use of knowledge.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our peers in Palestlne, specifically in Bethlehem, and beyond, as with every human being in need, and so are our actions.

“Let there be no doubt that we remain united in Lasallian campuses all over the world. From Manila to Rio de Janeiro, from Addis Ababa to Mexico City, from Barcelona to New York City, the Lasallian Community stands shoulder to shoulder in support of those who dedicate their life to building and promoting a society that is educated, tolerant, compassionate and inclusive.”

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Email: [email protected]

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