National News

Biden and Pope Francis Discuss Conflict in Israel and Gaza in Phone Call

U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill, is pictured with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican Oct. 29, 2021. The pontiff and Biden spoke by phone Oct. 22, 2023, to discuss the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza and facilitating a path to “durable peace” in the region. (Photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

By Kate Scanlon

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — President Joe Biden and Pope Francis spoke by phone Oct. 22 to discuss the conflict in Israel and Gaza and facilitating a path to “durable peace” in the region, according to the press offices of both leaders.

According to a readout of the call from the White House, Biden and Pope Francis discussed “the latest developments in Israel and Gaza.”

“The President condemned the barbarous attack by Hamas against Israeli civilians and affirmed the need to protect civilians in Gaza,” the readout said, adding the pair discussed the president’s “recent visit to Israel and his efforts to ensure delivery of food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

“They also discussed the need to prevent escalation in the region and to work toward a durable peace in the Middle East,” the readout said.

The Holy See Press Office said the conversation lasted around 20 minutes, and that the pope and the president spoke about “situations of conflict in the world and the need to identify paths to peace.”

Earlier the same day at the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called for peace in the Holy Land.

“I am very concerned, grieved,” he said. “I pray and I am close to all those who are suffering, the hostages, the wounded, the victims and their families.” He appealed for more humanitarian aid for Gaza and said he also was praying for the suffering people of Ukraine.

Biden also spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel the same day, per a White House pool report.

Reuters reported that the first humanitarian aid convoy allowed into Gaza since Hamas’ attack on Israel and the Israeli airstrikes in response arrived in southern Gaza from Egypt Oct. 21 following negotiations. The United Nations said a 20-truck convoy brought supplies including medicine and food. A second convoy of aid trucks arrived Oct. 22, the agency also reported.