By Charles Igwe
During the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis made a powerful call for a ceasefire in the Middle East, invoking the words of Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land. Fr. Faltas, an Egyptian-born Franciscan friar, expressed his deep appreciation for the Pope’s direct reference to him and his impassioned plea for a cessation of hostilities.
Fr. Faltas emphasized that it was Pope Francis alone, among the world’s leaders, who used the term “ceasefire” and declared that war is a defeat for all. He lauded the Pope for consistently making these appeals for peace.
The Pope’s urgent plea was broadcast worldwide, resonating with the faithful. “Ceasefire,” the Pope repeated four times during his address, calling for an end to the hostilities in the Holy Land.
Speaking from Jerusalem, Father Ibrahim thanked Pope Francis for his unwavering commitment to peace. However, he expressed his disappointment that other influential figures in the world have not responded to this plea for a ceasefire.
Fr. Faltas spoke about the dire situation in Gaza, where people are homeless, lacking essential necessities such as food, electricity, and water. He described the devastating loss of life, particularly among children, women, and those with disabilities. He noted the dire need for humanitarian aid and medical treatment for the wounded.
In Gaza, where life is at a standstill, the internet connection for some residents has been partially restored. Father Ibrahim was able to establish contact with his fellow clergy members and the people taking shelter in the Holy Family parish. Almost 700 people are seeking refuge there, living within the church.
Despite communication disruptions and the challenging circumstances, Fr. Faltas highlighted the overwhelming situation in Gaza, where two million people endure extreme hardships. He noted the protests in the streets, where millions called on their leaders to end the ongoing conflict. Father Faltas underscored the urgent need for a ceasefire and the profound suffering experienced by the people of Gaza and the entire Holy Land.
The plight in the region is severe, and the appeal for a ceasefire is a vital call for humanity and peace during these challenging times.