Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Enters the Gaza Strip

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Pizzaballa in the Church of the Holy Family, presenting gifts wrapped in the coats of arms of the Patriarchate and the Order of Malta

A press release from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, dated May 16, 2024, announced that, for the first time since the attack of October 7, 2023, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa has entered Gaza.

The Patriarch “was accompanied by His Excellency Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, Grand Hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and Fr. Gabriele Romanelli, curé of Gaza and a small delegation. They went to the Catholic parish of the Holy Family for a pastoral visit,” it is specified.

“They met the suffering population to encourage them and convey a message of hope, solidarity, and support. His Beatitude celebrated Mass in the parish church with the local community. During his stay, His Beatitude paid a courtesy visit to the St. Porphyry Orthodox parish,” the press release added.

“The meaning of my visit is first of all to be with them, to kiss them, to hug them and to support them as much as possible,” confides Cardinal Pizzaballa in a video posted on YouTube. “I had wanted and desired to see them for a very long time,” assures the Latin patriarch who usually visits this small community every year before Christmas, reports

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem surrounded by Gazan parishioners in front of the Church of the Holy Family

A Captive Catholic Population

Since the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on October 7 and the war that has followed, the Catholic community in Gaza has lived withdrawn into itself. It shares the conditions imposed by the Israeli army on the entire population. Two faithful were also shot dead by Israeli soldiers on the parish grounds on December 16.

“Before the war, the Catholic community numbered 135 people. Today, there are around 90 people,” Farid Jubran, who works for the Latin Patriarchate and who signed the press release, told I.MEDIA, relayed by “It is a community at war, distraught, tired, but with a lot of faith and courage. An immense testimony of faith,” he adds.

In his video message, Cardinal Pizzaballa explains that his coming is also an opportunity to “see what we can do to improve their conditions and help them in every possible way.”

“This visit also constitutes the first step in a joint humanitarian mission of the Latin Patriarchate and the Sovereign Order of Malta, in collaboration with Malteser International and other partners, aimed at providing vital food and medical aid to the population of Gaza,” concludes the Patriarchate press release.

The curé of Gaza, Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, who traveled with the delegation, is expected to stay there. On October 7, 2023, he was outside the Gaza Strip and remained stuck in Bethlehem. He is the one Pope Francis calls very regularly to get news from the Gazan community.