Pope to Meet Relatives of Israeli Hostages

Next week, a meeting is scheduled between Pope Francis and family members of Israeli captives, currently under Hamas’ control in Gaza. This development was shared by a confidential source with Reuters, with the individual remaining unnamed due to restrictions on discussing the Pope’s schedule.

The meeting, set for early Wednesday morning ahead of Pope Francis’ regular public audience, will include a group of 12 family members. This group comprises some individuals who had previously engaged with Italian officials last month, along with new participants.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-in-command, highlighted on Friday the critical nature of releasing the captives and implementing a ceasefire to resolve the ongoing conflict. Despite Israel’s current stance against a ceasefire, the Vatican views these steps as essential.

While attending a conference in Rome, Cardinal Parolin mentioned that plans for a meeting between the Pope and the hostages’ relatives were in progress, though he did not specify a date.

Cardinal Parolin, serving as the Vatican’s Secretary of State, emphasized the importance of considering the humanitarian needs of the captives, which include men, women, children, newborns, and pregnant women. He reiterated the Vatican’s commitment to facilitating their release.

The crisis began when Hamas militants captured approximately 240 individuals in southern Israel on October 7. Pope Francis has repeatedly called for their release and the establishment of a ceasefire, underlining the humanitarian necessity of both actions.

Parolin also stressed the importance of a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, including the delivery of aid and medical care for the injured.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens as the United Nations was forced to suspend aid deliveries again due to fuel shortages and communication issues. This has exacerbated the suffering of the Palestinian population, already grappling with hunger and displacement amidst ongoing conflicts with Israeli forces.