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Gazan priest in Glasgow highlights plight of the Christian community

30 April 2024

Fr Romanelli Mass Glasgow

Fr Gabriel Romanelli – the Parish Priest of the only Catholic Church in Gaza –  visited Glasgow on Friday to raise awareness of the plight of his parishioners, more than six months on from the start of the war.  

Fr Gabriel was in Bethlehem to buy medicine for a nun when Hamas attacked Israel on 7th October, and since then he has been unable to return to Gaza. He has, however, managed to stay in regular communication with his Holy Family Parish. Pope Francis has kept in regular contact with Fr Romanelli and the Catholic Parish in Gaza. 

The Archbishop of Glasgow William Nolan welcomed Fr Gabriel to the city for a public event at the Concert Hall, followed by Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral. The event was organised by SCIAF and Justice and Peace Scotland and was so popular a larger venue had to be found to accommodate all 330 guests. 

Fr Gabriel said:

“The situation is very bad and we have many refugees with us, around 500. We also have 50 children with disabilities living in the compound from the school of the Sisters of St Theresa. Despite this, we help thousands of our neighbours with food and medicine - but the situation is very, very hard. 

 “This is my first visit to the United Kingdom and Glasgow. It’s a very good opportunity to present a message of peace; peace for all, for Palestine and Israel.

“Unfortunately, since the beginning of the war, we have lost 55% of our community: some Christians emigrated and 33 have died. Twenty were killed by the IDF and 13 died for reasons including lack of medicine. 

“In spite of the 1,200 Israeli people killed in the terrible events of October 7th, more than 34,000 people have been killed inside the Gaza strip. It’s a tragedy this war. 

“One more week, one more day is not the solution. We tried to repeat the ask from the Holy Father Pope Francis for a ceasefire. We ask for a ceasefire and the liberation of all hostages and for help for the thousands and thousands of injured, the majority of which are women and children.” 

Archbishop William Nolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow and President of Justice and Peace Scotland said:

“I am so grateful to Fr Gabriel for coming to Glasgow. My hope is that now people have heard first-hand his testimony of what is happening in Gaza, and the appalling sufferings of his people there, they will redouble their efforts to demand a ceasefire and urge our politicians to step up pressure to bring it about.   

“It is imperative that the awful situation of the people of Gaza be better known so that an end to their agony can be brought without delay.  

“The cry of the people of Israel for the return of the hostages and the cry of the people of Gaza for an end to their suffering must both be heard. Neither will be achieved through violence. They are both cries for justice and for peace.”  

SCIAF Chief Executive Lorraine Currie said:

“We are so glad to have had the opportunity to welcome Fr Gabriel to Glasgow. The situation in the Holy Land is very close to our hearts, and those of our supporters – and thousands of them have already signed up to our ‘Cry for Peace in the Holy Land’ campaign. The outpouring of solidarity with the people of Palestine in recent months has been remarkable.  

“Enough is enough. The suffering of innocents cannot continue. We need an urgent ceasefire and full humanitarian access to the people of Gaza. And we need to redouble our efforts towards peace in the Holy Land; deep and lasting peace where everyone can survive and thrive, feel safe, secure and be authors of their own lives’ stories.”   

Fr Gabriel said:

“There is no safe place in Gaza, so we put our faith in Jesus to give courage and to stop this war. We pray for peace, for justice, without revenge.”