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Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa with parishioners of the Holy Family Parish in Gaza City on May 16 (OSV News/Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

In a previously unpublicised visit, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa entered the Gaza Strip last week, visiting Holy Family Parish on his first pastoral visit since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. Source: OSV News.

Holy Family Parish priest Fr Gabriel Romanelli, who was caught in Jerusalem at the outbreak of war and unable to return to his parish for the past eight months, also accompanied the patriarch and will be remaining in Gaza City with his community.

“It was a long time I wanted, desired, to be with them, to meet them,” Cardinal Pizzaballa said of his visit to the resilient parish. “Now I had this possibility and am very happy,” he said in a video message posted online by the patriarchate on Thursday. 

Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, grand hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta, was also in the small delegation.

According to a press release put out by the Latin Patriarchate, the delegation met the population to “encourage them and to deliver a message of hope, solidarity and support”.

Cardinal Pizzaballa said he wanted “to be with them, to embrace them, to hug them and to support them as much as we can and to verify their conditions and to see what we can do in order to improve their conditions and to help them in (any) way possible”.

The visit also marked the first stage of a joint humanitarian mission of the Latin Patriarchate and the Sovereign Order of Malta, in collaboration with Malteser International and other partners, with the aim to deliver much-need food and medical supplies to the people in Gaza.

The situation in Gaza is increasingly desperate, with humanitarian organisations such as Caritas reporting people are starving, unable to find, let alone buy food.


Cardinal Pizzaballa makes low-profile visit to parish in Gaza (By Judith Sudilovsky, OSV News)