From Cardinal Brislin on the situation in Gaza

Dear Bishop, Fathers, Deacons, Sisters, Brothers

Yesterday I received information from the Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Cardinal Pizzaballa, and from Vatican News, about an attack on the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza and on the Centre for Disabled Children that is run by the Missionaries of Charity in Gaza. I have celebrated and concelebrated Mass in the Holy Famiy Church on my visits to Gaza, and have had tea with the parish priest in the adjoining presbytery as well as with parishioners after Mass. On every visit I made to Gaza we visited the Missionaries of Charity and witnessed the good work they are doing there.

I have copied both statements below.

Please make your parishioners aware of these attacks and please ask them to keep in prayer the minuscule Christian community in Gaza together with all those who have been so badly affected by the war – those killed, who have lost loved ones, those maimed, those displaced, those without food and water……Let us pray for peace and an end to this horrifying violence that seems to have as its aim the annihilation of Gaza.

With blessings
Stephen Cardinal Brislin

From Cardinal Pizzaballa
Around noon today, December 16, 2023 a sniper of the IDF murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families has taken refuge since the start of the war. Nahida and her daughter Samar were shot and killed as they walked to the Sister’s Convent. One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety. Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound. No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents.
Earlier in the morning, a rocket fired from an IDF tank targeted the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Theresa (Missionaries of Charity). The Convent is home to over 54 disabled persons and is part of the church compound, which was signaled as a place of worship since the beginning of the war. The building’s generator (the only source of electricity) and the fuel resources were destroyed. The house was damaged by the resulting explosion and massive fire. Two more rockets, fired by an IDF tank, targeted the same Convent and rendered the home uninhabitable. The 54 disabled persons are currently displaced and without access to the respirators that some of them need to survive.
In addition, as a result of the heavy bombing in the area, three people were wounded inside the church compound last night. Furthermore, solar panels and water tanks, which are indispensable for the survival of the community, were destroyed.
Together in prayer with the whole Christian community, we express our closeness and condolences to the families affected by this senseless tragedy. At the same time, we cannot but express that we are at a loss to comprehend how such an attack could be carried out, even more so when the whole Church prepares for Christmas.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem follows this developing situation with great concern and shall provide additional information as needed.

From Vatican News:
The Israeli military has reportedly entered the compound of Holy Family Catholic Parish, shooting at anyone leaving the church. The victims are said to be an elderly woman and her daughter who rushed out of the building to rescue her mother. Israel has justified the attack, which is still ongoing, claiming the presence of a missile launcher in the parish.

Israelis have opened fire on Gaza’s Christians. Following heavy bombardment overnight of the area around Holy Family Latin parish in Gaza City, dozens are reported dead, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, and reports continue to arrive that shooting by Israeli snipers continues during these hours.

From the reports coming in, confirmed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, on Saturday afternoon two women have been killed, believed to be a mother and daughter, the latter murdered while attempting to rescue her elderly mother who had been shot by snipers. There are also several wounded, one of them in very serious condition.

The attack was reportedly justified by Israelis who claimed the presence of a rocket launcher in the parish. Despite the Patriarchate’s intervention, the operation has not been halted. Israeli soldiers reportedly entered the parish compound and are in the parish square itself from where they are firing at civilians sheltering in the building.

Posted in News & Events.