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Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa (OSV News/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

In the latest sign of tension between Israel and Catholic leaders over the Gaza conflict, the Israeli embassy to the Holy See has blasted a statement from Church leaders in the Holy Land denying that Israel’s offensive can be described as a “just war”. Source: Crux.

“It should be lamented that a group of people from the Catholic Church has decided to issue a document that, using religious pretext and linguistic stunts, does nothing else than de facto objecting [to] Israel’s right to defend itself from its enemies’ declared intentions to put an end to its existence,” the July 2 Israeli press release said.

The protest came in response to a statement from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Holy Land, which is sponsored by the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, bringing together the Latin, Greek Melkite, Maronite, Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean Catholic leadership of Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus.

The assembly’s president is Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is considered a key adviser to Pope Francis and the Vatican on Middle Eastern affairs.

The commission’s statement, titled “Just War?”, amounts to a stinging criticism of the Israeli military operation on the Gaza Strip.

“We are outraged that political actors in Israel and abroad are mobilising the theory of ‘just war’ in order to perpetuate and legitimate the ongoing war in Gaza,” it reads. “This theory is being used in a way in which it was never intended: to justify the death of tens of thousands, our friends and our neighbours.

“In short, the manipulation of the language of just war theory is not only about words: it is having tangible, fatal results.”


Israel, Catholic leaders clash over Gaza as a ‘just war’ (Crux)