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Pope welcomes Mideast truce, hostage releases

By AFP - Nov 26,2023 - Last updated at Nov 26,2023

Faithfuls gather to attend the Angelus prayer on a screen, led by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday (AFP photo)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday welcomed a truce which has seen some hostages set free in the Middle East and prayed for further releases.

“Today we thank God because there is finally a truce between Israel and Palestine and some hostages have been freed,” the Argentinian Pontiff said in a statement read by a Vatican official at the weekly Angelus prayer.

“We pray that they all may be [freed] as rapidly as possible and that more humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza and that they insist on dialogue,” the 86-year-old leader of the Catholic Church said.

Dialogue “is the only way, the only path to peace. Those who do not want to hold a dialogue do not want peace”, Francis concluded.

The truce, a four-day pause to fighting brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, provides for Hamas releasing 50 hostages in exchange for the release by Israel of 150 Palestinian prisoners.

Francis had a colleague read his statement as he recited recite Sunday’s Angelus prayer from his Casa Santa Marta residence rather than overlooking St Peter’s Square as he deals with a mild bout of flu, the Vatican press service said.

The prayer was broadcast live on screens in St Peter’s Square and streamed on the Vatican News website.

The Pope was recuperating a day after he had a CT scan which ruled out pulmonary complications and cancelled audiences for the day as the Vatican said he was getting over a “light flu”.

Francis is scheduled to make a much anticipated speech at the UN climate summit in Dubai next Saturday. He is expected to criticise the inaction of many governments and urge them to intensify efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


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