Pope Francis has been actively engaging in diplomatic efforts concerning the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, reaching out to key leaders involved. A Washington Post report on Thursday revealed details of a tense conversation between Pope Francis and Israeli President Isaac Herzog that took place in late October.
This discussion, not previously reported, sheds light on the Vatican's role in international diplomacy and the Pope's stance on the conflict. According to a senior Israeli official familiar with the call, Pope Francis and President Herzog had a "fraught phone call." During the conversation, Herzog expressed Israel's profound shock following the Hamas attack on October 7.
In response, Pope Francis reportedly stated that it is “forbidden to respond to terror with terror”. This comment, as reported by the Washington Post and attributed to the Israeli official, has not been independently verified by CNN, despite confirmation of the phone call's occurrence.
The Vatican's Response and Broader Engagement
The Vatican, in a statement to the Washington Post, contextualized the call as part of Pope Francis's broader efforts to mitigate the severity and extent of the conflict in the Holy Land.
This interaction is part of a series of calls made by the Pope to influential leaders, including a conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on November 2 and a call to United States President Joe Biden on October 22.
The Pope's involvement in the Israel-Hamas war is not limited to private diplomatic calls. He has publicly addressed the conflict, labeling it as terrorism. During a general audience in St. Peter’s Square on November 22, Pope Francis reflected on his meetings with delegations from both Israeli and Palestinian communities.
He emphasized the profound suffering on both sides, concluding that the situation has escalated beyond warfare to terrorism. Pope Francis has consistently advocated for a ceasefire in the conflict and maintains regular contact with the Catholic community in Gaza.
His active role in addressing this crisis highlights the Vatican's commitment to peace and the moral authority the Pope wields in global affairs.