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Inside the VaticanNovember 09, 2023
Palestinians react after seeing the damages at a U.N.-run school sheltering displaced people following an Israeli strike, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 2, 2023. (OSV News photo/Fadi Whadi, Reuters)

As the war in the Holy Land rages on, Pope Francis has made headlines for calling for a ceasefire and intensifying diplomatic outreach to foreign leaders.

In this episode of “Inside the Vatican,” host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell return to their regularly-scheduled programming to discuss the Vatican response to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. “Francis’ immediate goal is a stop to the killing,” explains Gerry, which motivates the pope’s advocacy for a ceasefire, entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza and the release of all hostages being held by Hamas. Colleen and Gerry talk about the Vatican’s longstanding advocacy for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine with a special status for Jerusalem—and whether such a solution remains viable.

Pope Francis has spoken to global leaders across the ideological spectrum to advocate for a ceasefire, including U.S. President Biden, Palestinian Authority President Mahmous Abbas, President Ibraham Raisi of Iran, and President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. He has also made calls to civilians in the conflict zone; Colleen notes that Pope Francis is “very moved, stirred emotionally by the people suffering in Israel and in Palestine.”

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In the second half of the show, Colleen and Gerry discuss Pope Francis’ announcement that he would travel to Dubai for COP28. This will make him the first pontiff to attend the U.N. climate meeting since it was founded in 1995. They note that this comes just after the release of “Laudate Deum,” an apostolic exhortation which follows his 2015 encyclical on care for the common home, “Laudato Si’.” In “Laudate Deum,” Francis explored the successes and failures of past climate conferences, and he sees COP28 as a “make or break moment” for humanity and the climate, says Colleen. The Pope believes in the need for a “faster transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar and the abandonment of fossil fuels,” explains Colleen, as well as a cultural change in how we treat our planet.

The Pope’s visit to the U.A.E. is also notable because of the recent document on human fraternity signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, who is a prominent faith leader for Sunni Muslims. Sheikh el-Tayeb and Pope Francis will both travel to Dubai as spiritual leaders, marking a show of interfaith advocacy regarding “what is seen as the greatest threat to humanity in the coming years,” says Gerry.

Links from the show:

Laudate Deum

Interview: Pope Francis’ presence at COP28 climate conference in Dubai is ‘without precedence’

Pope Francis appeals ‘in the name of God’ for a ‘ceasefire’ in the Israeli-Palestinian war

Joe Biden and Pope Francis discuss war in Israel and Gaza in 20-minute phone call

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Ultimately, it is up to each of us to prayerfully discern the individual contribution we can make. Guided by our faith and Catholic social teaching, we can do our part to support a just peace in Israel-Palestine.