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We have “many problems of all kinds”; starvation is new

Boy steps over rubble in Gaza

MOHAMMED ABED | AFP

John Burger - published on 03/25/24

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa urged religious, political, and social communities to find solution as starvation threatens Palestinian territory. Threat of famine in Gaza "intolerable."

As Christians in the Middle East prepared to celebrate Holy Week, the cardinal who leads the Latin-rite Catholics in the Holy Land said it will be a “difficult Easter” there.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, told an Italian television station that the situation in Gaza is “objectively intolerable.”

“I think of the loneliness of Jesus in Gethsemane, which is now shared by all of us,” Cardinal Pizzaballa told the Italian television station TV2000. Vatican News reported the interview.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday said that starvation is “bearing down” on Gaza. 

“The need is urgent,” Guterres said while visiting Jordan. He pledged to keep pushing “for the removal of all obstacles to life-saving aid, for more access and more entry points” into Gaza.

The World Health Organization reported that 27 children have died from complications linked to severe malnutrition.

“We must face facts. There will be no sustainable humanitarian solution with an ongoing war as bloody as this,” Guterres said. Nothing justifies “the abhorrent October 7 attacks and hostage-taking by Hamas,” he said, but also nothing justifies “the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

Monday morning, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate, “lasting” ceasefire for the month of Ramadan. The annual time of fasting for Muslims is about half over; it concludes this year on April 9.

Situation must stop

Cardinal Pizzaballa said that there have always been “many problems of all kinds” in the region, “but there has never been hunger before.”

“Everyone — religious, political, and social communities must do everything possible to put an end to this situation,” he said.

Permits for Holy Week

The cardinal, a Franciscan who has served in the Holy Land for many years, expressed confidence that permits will be granted to Christians living in Palestinian territories to visit Jerusalem for Holy Week liturgies.

“We’ll get the permits,” he said. “We insisted, saying that as they had given permits to Muslims for Ramadan, they should also give them to Christians for Easter. Even if the numbers are smaller, we will have several thousand permits both for Palm Sunday and for Easter.”

Tags:
Holy LandIsraelPalestineWar
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