In the evening of November 5, 2023, the Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, and Pope Francis spoke over the phone about the situation in the Holy Land, Vatican News reports. The article explains that according to the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, President Raisi requested to speak to the Pontiff.
“The President appreciated the position of the Catholic leader on the necessity of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” says a statement on the website of the Iranian Presidency.
The Iranian statement went on to say that President Raisi shared his opinion that “supporting the oppressed people of Palestine today is the practice of the teachings of all Abrahamic religions.” He also strongly condemned Israeli attacks against Palestinians.
“As the leader of the world’s Catholics I will do everything in my power to stop these attacks and prevent more women and children from becoming victims in Gaza,” the Iranian presidency reports Pope Francis as saying.
Pope Francis’ calls for a ceasefire
Pope Francis has made urgent appeals for an end to the conflict since it broke out a month ago. During the Angelus prayer earlier on Sunday, he said, “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,” he added.
“There are also many children among them – may they return to their families!” the Pope insisted.
The Holy See’s diplomacy
On October 30, 2023, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, also spoke over the phone with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, at the latter’s request.
A statement shared by the Vatican explains that Archbishop Gallagher “expressed the Holy See’s serious concern about what is happening in Israel and Palestine” and reiterated “the absolute need to avoid widening the conflict and to reach a two-State solution for stable and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
In the statement on the Iranian Presidency’s website, President Raisi said that the relations between Iran and the Holy See are “very good,” as they approach their 70th anniversary.
On November 2, 2023 Pope Francis also spoke on the phone with the Palestinian President Mahmound Abbas. He has also recently spoken to US President Joe Biden (on October 22) and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (on October 26).