Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: the trust has been lost
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave a lecture in Budapest titled "The Situation of Christians in the Holy Land". At the beginning of his speech, he emphasized that during his visit, he experienced that Hungarian society is genuinely interested in the fate of Christians in the Middle East.
“Palestinian Christians are also part of the Palestinian nation. It may happen that a Palestinian Christian agrees with a Muslim, or an Israeli Christian agrees with a Jew on political, social issues, which shows how complex the situation in the Holy Land is,” said the cardinal, pointing out: the October 7th Hamas attack against Israel and the subsequent Israeli retaliation in Gaza fundamentally changed the socio-political processes.
“It’s important to understand that Israel was created as a home for Jews, a kind of house where they are protected. Now they have faced the reality that they are not as safe in this home as they expected. This trauma is very deep in Israeli society. I have never seen such deep hatred between the two peoples,” stated Pierbattista Pizzaballa, emphasizing that both sides in the conflict are highly traumatized.
The cardinal highlighted: in Gaza, there are about a thousand Christians, primarily in the north. The area had to be evacuated, but as a result of negotiations, they were allowed to stay; currently, they live in one orthodox and mostly in one catholic center. This region has been practically razed to the ground. The families have nothing left. They too suffered from the bombings; so far, twenty Christians have lost their lives.
Pierbattista Pizzaballa added: Christians are still in a privileged position because they have access to humanitarian aid, unlike the other 2 million Gazans. Currently, 1.9 million Gazans had to leave their homes, and the majority of them live on the streets. The only crossing point, which is open periodically, is located in Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. It is not even possible to cross for medical care, and many lose their lives because of this.
“Israel wants to dismantle Hamas, but this path is not feasible. Hamas is an ideology that cannot be destroyed with weapons,” said the cardinal.
Speaking of interreligious dialogue, Pizzaballa said he is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, where he primarily deals with the Jewish faith.
“So far, there was trust in me from the other side, but this has now been ‘suspended’. Judaism feels that Christianity did not stand by it after the events of October. Israel views the Muslim world as those who, if they did not support it, certainly did not oppose the attack. Those with whom we have spoken and met for many years have now turned away from us,” said the patriarch. He added that the dialogue must be restarted, but it cannot continue from where it left off.
“We need a point of reference, and for me, that is the word of God. I have to seriously ask the question: What do I need to do while also being mindful of my relationship with Jesus? There are three words that accompany me: justice, truth, forgiveness,” said Pierbattista Pizzaballa. He explained that justice cannot be achieved without truth, but these two will not work without forgiveness. He added that it is also true that forgiveness takes much more time. But this is what is needed in these terrible days.