newsIsrael at War

Pope to hostages’ families: Hamas are ‘evil, bad people’

Pope Francis on Monday met with several families whose loved ones have been held hostage since Oct. 7.

Pope Francis at the grave of Theodor Herzl at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, May 26, 2014. Photo by Uri Lenz/POOL/Flash90.
Pope Francis at the grave of Theodor Herzl at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, May 26, 2014. Photo by Uri Lenz/POOL/Flash90.

Pope Francis met privately on Monday with several families whose loved ones have been held hostage by the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, the Vatican’s press office announced.

The families told Italian media that the pontiff called Hamas terrorists “evil, bad people.” He reportedly said that he is in contact with the Catholic Church in Gaza in order to free the remaining 133 hostages.

“We could not have hoped that he would spend so much time with us. He was very warm and told us that he will do everything possible, with the countries linked to the Vatican, to get the hostages home, as if it were an international mission,” ANSA cited the families as saying.

According to AFP, the group consisted of relatives of Shiri Bibas, 32, her husband Yarden, 34, and their children, Ariel, 4, and Kfir, 1; Agam Berger, 19; Tamir Nimrod, 19; Guy Gilboa-Dalal, 22; and Omri Miran, 46.

Posting on X on Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz commended the pope for “responding to the request to meet with the families of the hostages who came with me on my visit to Italy.”

“On the six-month anniversary of the Oct. 7 massacre, the meeting and the Pope’s support carry great moral weight, sending a clear message: The world should mobilize and act for the unconditional release of all of the hostages,” tweeted Katz.

As part of the official visit, the hostages’ families met on Monday with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, as well as representatives of the Jewish community.

In his March 31 Easter message at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for the release of all remaining Hamas hostages from Gaza as well as an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s defensive war against the terror group.

“I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on Oct. 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip,” he said, per AFP.

In February, the Israeli embassy to the Vatican lodged a formal protest after Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s secretary of state, accused the Jewish state of employing disproportionate force against Hamas.

Speaking with journalists at an event with Italian officials, Cardinal Parolin had spoken about the war in Gaza, saying, “I believe we are all outraged by what is happening, by this carnage, but we must have the courage to move forward and not lose hope.”

The Vatican’s top diplomat told reporters he believed “that Israel’s right to defense, which has been invoked to justify this operation, [should] be proportional, and certainly with 30,000 deaths, it is not.”

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