For 20 relatives of family members kidnapped by Hamas, their meeting with Pope Francis was a comfort in the midst of so much suffering.
Mother of Hersh, who was kidnapped by Hamas
Aside from the 1.3 billion Catholics that certainly revere and respect him, I think he's very respected in the Muslim world, in the Jewish world, really irrespective of religious background. And so I think when he speaks, the world really listens.
Brother of Raaya, who was kidnapped by Hamas
I think he took his time and listened to us. It's true that not all of us had the opportunity to talk, but at least half of us, if not more, had the opportunity to talk and present everything to the Pope. I felt he listened to us.
Some of them are finding it difficult to stay positive about seeing their loved ones again. But they are grateful that the head of the Catholic Church continues to show support and express his solidarity with them. Among those kidnapped are people from more than 30 countries, from a 9-month-old baby to grandparents.
The Palestinian families who have lost their relatives to Israeli attacks express the same sentiments. They are grateful to the Pope for meeting with them.
Family killed in bombings in Gaza
We asked him to use his power for a more just and long lasting peace. We asked him as well to come personally and visit Gaza to put an end to this genocide because we believe his presence will bring comfort and peace to the region.
Two uncles killed in attacks in Gaza
And why do we come all the way to Rome to see Pope Francis, His Holiness Pope Francis? Because we know that in 2014, in May 2014, 26 of May, 2014, when he came to the land, he prayed over what is called an apartheid wall. He prayed and said, “Let all these walls go down.”
Among those present was a woman who lost nine family members. Others have loved ones who died in hospitals in Gaza due to the lack of resources caused by Israel's attacks.
Yet despite the suffering, they are sure of Pope Francis' diplomatic influence. They say the Pope described what was going on in Gaza as genocide, although the head of the Vatican Press Office could not confirm this.
Nevertheless, the Vatican had made it clear from the moment it confirmed this double meeting that they were exclusively humanitarian in nature. And, a few hours after both audiences, Pope Francis published a video in which he asked for prayers for peace in the Holy Land. He says that both the Palestinian and Israeli people have the right to live in peace, but that peace must be built through dialogue—not on mountains of corpses.