From Staff and Wire Reports
As war between Israel and Hamas rages, Bishop Edward J. Burns called the faithful in the Diocese of Dallas to join him in offering prayers for peace in the Holy Land.
“The attacks upon Israel will not be forgotten. We pray that there will be an end to this bloodshed,” Bishop Burns said in a video statement released Oct. 12. “We must remember that we are all children of God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Only through the conversion of hearts will we ever know lasting peace. As the war between Israel and Hamas deepens, let us pray to our Lord, the Prince of Peace… Let there be peace on Earth.”
On Oct. 7, Hamas militants stormed from the Gaza Strip into approximately 22 locations in Israel, gunning down civilians and taking at least 199 hostages, according to Israel, including infants, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The coordinated attack took place on a Sabbath that marked the final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which celebrates the gathering of the harvest and the divine protection of the ancient Israelites as they escaped from slavery in Egypt.
Israel declared war on Hamas Oct. 8, placing Gaza under siege and pounding the region with airstrikes. Hamas has continued to launch strikes against Israel.
To date, some 1,400 in Israel, including at least 30 U.S. citizens, and more than 2,700 in Gaza have been killed. Israel placed Gaza under siege and has warned some 1.1 million in Gaza to move south within the enclave ahead of an expected ground offensive by Israeli forces. So far, half a million in Gaza have heeded the evacuation order, according to the Israel Defense Forces, as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the Middle East is “on the verge of the abyss.”
“There is yet time to stop the hatred,” said the Jerusalem patriarchs and heads of churches in their statement.
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem — who has offered himself in exchange for the hostages — particularly urged “prayer times with
Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary.”
“This is the way we all come together despite everything, and unite collectively in prayer, to deliver to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice, and reconciliation,” said Cardinal Pizzaballa in an Oct. 11 letter.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops posted to social media on Oct. 12 that they “join Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and all the Ordinaries of the Holy Land in calling for a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer” which was observed on Oct. 17.
In his Oct. 12 statement, released on behalf of Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly and all the faithful members of the Diocese of Dallas Catholic community, Bishop Burns assured “our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community of our prayers, support, and fraternal affection during these very difficult days.”
“As the shepherd of the Catholic community in north Texas, I had the opportunity to speak with leaders of the Jewish community, assuring them of our solidarity with them during this time,” Bishop Burns said.
The Dallas bishop ended his message by reciting Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God.”
OSV News contributed to this story.