Pope Francis calls, checks on Gaza Catholic Church ‘every day’

Throughout the war in Gaza, Pope Francis has denounced Israel’s atrocities [Getty/file photo]

Pope Francis said that he calls Gaza’s only Catholic church “every day”  to check in on the parish amid Israel’s daily bombings of the enclave.

In an interview on the US programme 60 Minutes, broadcast on CBS earlier this week, the pope said he makes a phone call to the parish every evening at 7pm, where over 600 people are sheltering.

The Holy Family Church is located in Gaza City and serves the enclave’s small but significant Catholic minority.

Pope Francis told journalist Norah O’Donnell that he simply “listens to the priest” when on the phone, stressing that there is “a lot of suffering” in the enclave.

In the interview, he went on to describe how the people in the church were happy the other day “because they managed to get some meat”, as they usually only eat “things made from flour the rest of the time”.

However, the pontiff said that sometimes the people go hungry.

“They tell me about what happens there. It is very tough.”

The head of the Catholic Church added that “people rush quickly whenever food arrives”, as basic needs in the Gaza Strip are scarce, due to Israel’s blockade, war and the dangerous conditions aid workers face when attempting to deliver relief to residents.

The Holy Family Church, its school and convents have sheltered hundreds of Palestinians subject to Israeli shelling during Israel’s war in Gaza, which has killed at least 35,800 Palestinians.

In December, Israeli snipers targeted the church and shot two Palestinian Christian women on its premises. Nahida Anton and her daughter Samar were killed while walking towards the bathroom in the annex of the Catholic church.

Earlier that day, the Sisters of Mother Teresa convent, which is part of the church compound, was hit three times by Israeli artillery shells, making the monastery uninhabitable.

Fears have grown that the enclave’s Christian community, which numbers roughly 1,000, will struggle to survive in Gaza as a result of Israel’s war.

Throughout Israel’s military onslaught, the pontiff has frequently criticised Israel’s atrocities in the enclave. During Mass on Easter Sunday back in March, Pope Francis stressed the need for a ceasefire.

In January, the pontiff described the indiscriminate killings of civilians as “a crime”, while late last year, he called Israel’s actions in the enclave “terrorism”, drawing the ire of several pro-Israel US groups.

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