Pope Francis calls for global day of fasting and prayer for peace in Israel-Hamas conflict

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In a heartfelt plea for peace, Pope Francis has announced a day of prayer and fasting to bring an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Holy Father, speaking at his general audience last Wednesday, declared, "I have decided to call for a day of fasting and prayer on Friday, October 27th."

This call extends not only to the Christian community but also to people of all faiths and those who hold peace dear. The vigil will be held at 6.00pm in St. Peter's Square, where individuals will join the pope in an hour of prayer and penance, seeking peace for our troubled world.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Catholic Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, had previously urged for a global day of prayer and fasting, held on October 17th, to beseech God for peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Pope Francis emphasised the urgency of the situation, particularly in Palestine and Israel, stating, "The number of victims is rising and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please, let everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian disaster."

He added, "I urge believers to take just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not in words - in prayer, with total dedication."

As the conflict persists, the United Nations has reported a devastating toll, with over 4,200 lives lost and more than a million people displaced in just 10 days.

The situation further escalated with an explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, leading to the tragic loss of many lives. While Hamas blamed Israel, the Israeli government has denied responsibility, pointing instead to Hamas.

The Middle East has witnessed a surge of anger and condemnation, with calls for protests and even a proposed "day of rage".

Within his address, Pope Francis pleaded, "The possible widening of the conflict is disturbing, while so many war fronts are already open in the world. May weapons be silenced, and let us heed the cry for peace of the poor, the people, the children."

He concluded by saying, "Brothers and sisters, war does not solve any problem: It sows only death and destruction, foments hate, proliferates revenge. It cancels out the future."