(Al-Bushra) Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, has condemned the violence and the “cynical use of human lives” as Gaza buries 58 people killed May 14 when Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian protesters. The protests, which also injured some 2,700 people, coincide with the seventieth anniversary of the Nakba or Day of Catastrophe as it is known to Palestinians — when Gaza’s majority refugee community sought to remind people of their forced displacement following Israel’s creation.

The violence came as the US inaugurated its first embassy in Jerusalem, that Palestinians view as a provocation because they consider East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. “In these days we are witnessing another outburst of hatred and violence, which is once again bleeding all over the Holy Land. The lives of so many young people have once again been shut down and hundreds of families are mourning their loved ones, dead or wounded,” said Pizzaballa in a letter to all the priests, religious men and women and laypeople of the Latin Diocese of Jerusalem.

“As in a kind of vicious circle, we must condemn all forms of violence, any cynical use of human lives and disproportionate violence. Once again we are forced by circumstances to plead and cry out for justice and peace,” he said. Since these expressions of condemnation are similarly repeated, each and every time, “I invite the entire Christian community of the Diocese to join in prayer for the Holy Land, for the peace of all its inhabitants, for the peace of Jerusalem, for all the victims of this interminable conflict,” he said.




Saying Palestinians have a right to demonstrate peacefully and with dignity in their decades-long conflict with Israel, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined 14 other Christian denominations and organizations in a joint statement, calling for an end to violence in the region.

Two weeks ago, Palestinians began several weeks of planned nonviolent demonstrations in the Gaza Strip near the fence with Israel. More than two dozen people have been killed and thousands injured since the protests began on March 30. Organizers are planning to continue the demonstrations until May 15, which commemorates the 1948 displacement and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians.

“More than 1.3 million of Gaza’s nearly 2 million people are refugees,” the joint statement reads. “The Gaza demonstrations are an assertion of Palestinian rights: the rights of refugees, the right to demonstrate peacefully against injustice, and the right to live in and with dignity, not under closed military confinement or blockade.”

The statement goes on to criticize the U.S. government for not taking a strong stand to protect Palestinians and defend their rights. The 15 denominations and organizations say they have worked in the cause of justice, peace and equality and will continue to do so.

“We reject the use of violence by individuals, groups or states,” they said. “In the wake of demonstrations that have resulted in tragedy and death, and anticipating the continuation of Palestinian protests over the coming weeks, we cannot be silent.”




(CNA/EWTN News) With a referendum vote that could legalize abortion in Ireland just days away, the country’s clergy and Church leaders are asking the world for prayers. In a video message posted to YouTube, Irish priest Father Marius O’Reilly appeals to Catholics and Christians around the world to pray for the country of Ireland ahead of the vote, particularly through praying the rosary and offering Masses.

O’Reilly noted that while other countries have legalized abortion through legislation or court decisions, “Ireland would be the first country in the world where the people would legalize abortion,” he said. “We can’t allow that to happen. And so I’m making an appeal to you today – please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland,” he said.

On May 25, Irish citizens will vote whether they want to repeal the country’s eighth amendment, which recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. Under current law, the practice of abortion in Ireland is illegal, unless the mother’s health is deemed to be endangered. Pro-life Irish citizens are encouraging a “no” vote on the referendum.

The eighth amendment was passed in Ireland in 1983, with upwards of 67 percent voter-approval. It reads, in part: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Despite the high percentage of the population – 78 percent – that identifies as Catholic, polling has predicted that the vote will be close. Two months ago, EWTN Ireland started a 54-day rosary novena campaign for the “affirmation of the inestimable value of every human life.”


Tej Francis