Peace Rejected by Futile Logic of War in Gaza, No Christmas Bethlehem
In his Midnight Christmas Mass address, Pope Francis condemned the war on Gaza saying the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war by the clash of arms that even today prevents him from finding room in the world.
Since October 7 when Hamas attacked Israel and Tel Aviv announced war on Gaza, the pope has tried to make good sense prevail and pleaded multiple times for a ceasefire. He renewed his call on December 13 saying no to weapons, yes to peace, and release to all hostages.
Pope Francis said his heart is with those suffering in Bethlehem, where the good of God is being muffled by the conflict in Gaza. “But God does not eliminate injustice from above by a show of power, but from below, by a show of love.”
Christmas Cancelled in Bethlehem
In Bethlehem, Christmas has been cancelled. Hana Haniyeh, the mayor of Bethlehem, said their message every year on Christmas is one of peace and love. “But this year it’s a message of sadness, grief and anger in front of the international community with what is happening and going on in the Gaza Strip.”
The Mass in Bethlehem was held by Palestinian Christians who reflected on the war around them in Israel and Gaza. Notably, the traditional Nativity scene in Manger Square was surrounded by rubble and barbed wire.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in his sermon at Canterbury Cathedral is expected to say the skies of Bethlehem are full of fear rather than angels and glory. “Today a crying child is in his manger somewhere in the world, nobody willing or able to help his parents who desperately need shelter. Or in an incubator, in a hospital low on electricity, like al Ahli hospital in Gaza, surrounded by conflict.”
War in Gaza Continues
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s war against barbarians would prevail. “Citizens of Israel, we are intensifying the war in Gaza Strip. We will continue to fight until absolute victory over Hamas. This will take time, but we are united – the soldiers, the people and the government. We are united and determined to fight until the end.”
Sunday Christmas eve was the most deadly of Israeli airstrikes – at least 70 people including at least 12 women and seven children were killed in Maghazi refugee camp.