Catholic priest returns to Gaza


The only Latin-rite Catholic priest in Gaza has finally returned to his Holy Family parish after an unexpectedly long absence.

Father Gabriel Romanelli took advantage of Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa’s visit to the area last week to return to Gaza from Israel.

“I am in the parish and will stay here.”

One day turns into over 33 weeks

Romanelli left the Gaza Strip on 6 October last year for an overnight trip.

That overnight stay stretched on and on as Hamas – the Islamist group that rules Gaza – attacked Israel on 7 October.

Meanwhile the Church of the Holy Family has housed around 600 displaced Christians.

There are still 500 Christians sheltering in the parish compound, as well as the Sisters of Mother teresa.

The Sisters are also helping the neighbouring Muslims.

Serenity and suffering

Romanelli found an unexpected quality among the refugees in the church compound.

“The situation is paradoxical – there is serenity among many of our parishioners” he said.

“Despite the truly enormous suffering, they remain serene and place themselves in the hands of the Lord.

“Of course, they are very concerned about what will happen. Some are sick, some are injured, many have left and some are thinking of leaving but many, many, many are thinking of staying.”

No to war, no to weaponry

English Catholic international aid agency CAFOD is working for peace.

It says its supporters have contacted 95 percent of members of parliament “to support efforts to restoring peace in Gaza by not granting any more licences to export arms and other military equipment to Israel.”

Aisha Dodwell, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD, said the effort supporters made in this way “is a testament to the distress that Catholic constituents feel about this issue.

“Stopping arms sales is crucial to preventing a total catastrophe in Rafah and ending the suffering in Gaza.

“This must happen alongside continued calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all hostages and the unimpeded provision of aid to all those who need it” she says.

“Our supporters are sending a clear message to the Government that the UK must reconsider its position on arms sales to Israel especially in light of serious allegations of human rights abuses.

“As Pope Francis has said, ‘To say ‘no’ to war means saying ‘no’ to weaponry’.”


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