Connections With Msgr. Peter: ‘Peace and Justice’ in the Holy Land

Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari invited CNEWA’s regional directors in the Middle East to join him on the latest installment of “Connections With Msgr. Peter,” focused on the situation in Israel and Gaza.

The conversation with Joseph Hazboun in Jerusalem, Michel Constantin in Beirut and Ra’ed Bahou in Amman highlighted needs on the ground, CNEWA’s efforts to distribute aid and the agency’s anticipated needs in the coming weeks and months.

The CNEWA president began the episode calling for the establishment of humanitarian corridors, adding that “CNEWA laments the loss of all innocent life. Legitimate self-defense must admit parameters of proportionality.” Read the full statement.

“I remind you, as I have in the past, of the words of Pope St. Paul VI: ‘If you want peace, work for justice.’ Justice is the necessary condition for peace,” said Msgr. Vaccari.

CNEWA’s Jerusalem office was “contacted as soon as the cycle of violence started again” with requests for “support and relief,” said Mr. Hazboun. CNEWA’s partners and programs in Gaza include hospitals, schools and cultural centers, many of which are now serving as shelters for displaced Palestinians. The CNEWA-supported Arab Orthodox Cultural Center, for example, is sheltering about 3,000 displaced persons, he said.

The impact of this conflict is indiscriminate, affecting diverse demographics. As such, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s programs in the Holy Land reach far beyond the Christian population.  

“Service is provided based on need, not creed,” said Mr. Hazboun.

Mr. Constantin and Mr. Bahou also expressed concern for the war’s impact in Lebanon and Jordan.

In Tyre, Lebanon, “already 800 families, Christian families, living on the border with Israel … cannot access their fields. They cannot access their work,” said Mr. Constantin. “The schools are all closed in the south. The hospitals, they lack all necessities.”

“If the war happens, we will have a real disaster in the south,” he added.

CNEWA’s office in Amman is preparing in advance of potential crisis by stocking up on heaters and blankets, ensuring that hospital beds are available in the case of emergency and readying pastoral support for refugees who may need it, said Mr. Bahou.

Msgr. Vaccari reminded viewers of Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer and fasting today, 27 October. “I invite all of our viewers on Friday, October 27th, to join in this global, worldwide invitation” to “pray for justice and peace,” he said.

He emphasized his three priorities: pray, stay informed and give.

CNEWA is working to strengthen its Emergency Relief Fund, from which it draws in times of immediate crisis, such as the current situation in the Holy Land. The initial goal is to raise $500,000.

Olivia Poust is assistant editor of ONE.

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