It was with great shock, sadness, and, yes, anger that I viewed the itinerary of your current trip to the Holy Land, a land beset by the unholiest of human actions.
I am very troubled and hugely disappointed that, as leader of the Catholic Church, you have chosen to ignore the people of Gaza, who, just three months ago, were being bombarded by land, sea, and air by the Israeli military.
Fourteen hundred of their loved ones, including over 400 children, were killed in that 22 day assault, killed without mercy by Jewish soldiers, supported by, in one Israeli survey, a “whopping 94 percent” of Jews in Israel.
Your Holiness, how can you justify this decision to bypass Gaza and its people? How can you reconcile not visiting a devastated people in a devastated land, living under a three year siege, while you are partaking in activities in Israel? You are scheduled to meet with Israel’s two Chief Rabbis. Will you also meet with Gaza’s long-serving Catholic priest, Fr. Manuel Mussallam?
What, I wonder, is the real purpose of your visit?
Certainly it is not to offer comfort, love, and compassion to those that need it most. If this were the reason, you would have stipulated that Gaza and its people be an integral part of your journey.
You would meet with the families, sympathize with the victims of Israeli bombs, missiles, tanks. You would talk to the homeless. You would offer the people of Gaza some much needed encouragement, a spiritual uplifting, perhaps, as they struggle through an economic hardship deliberately imposed by their oppressors.
You would meet with the duly elected Palestinian leaders, Hamas, the only social, economic, and resistance life line that the Palestinian people have ever had. I haven’t seen anyone else helping them, and obviously you have no intentions of helping them either. And that, to me, your Holiness, is truly unacceptable.
You are shunning the people who are most in need of help, most in need of comfort, most in need of love and support.
Can you not find it in your heart to walk amongst them, to reach out to them, to talk to them, to comfort them, to publicly pray for them?
Is this not what Jesus would do? Would Jesus not speak out in the midst of so much pain and suffering?
Are you not expected to display similar compassion and concern?
To turn your back on Gaza and its people will be a moral catastrophe, one that will reverberate throughout the ages. You will leave behind a legacy as the Pope who not only closed his eyes to a slow motion genocide being carried out against the Palestinian people, but also as the Pope who refused to even acknowledge the Palestinian people in Gaza during their time of great hardship.
I strongly urge you to reconsider your decision. The faithful of the world are watching. If, as we are told, there is a God, then he must be watching too.
The people of Gaza are waiting. Please, let this be their “miracle.”