The Caritas Social Action Network [CSAN] shares in the mission of the Catholic Church and is committed to raising a prophetic Catholic voice in the public arena. The charity recently issued a statement on the Israel-Gaza conflict calling for a ceasefire in the region:
"[The] Caritas Social Action Network supports the call by Pope Francis for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli-Gaza conflict. In his comments after the Angelus on 29 October, Pope Francis said, 'in Gaza, may space be opened to guarantee humanitarian aid, and may the hostages be released right away. Let no one abandon the possibility that the weapons might be silenced – let there be a ceasefire'.
"We deplore the atrocities carried out by Hamas on 7 October and we agree with our sister Caritas agency CAFOD that 'responding to the atrocities committed by Hamas with what amounts to a collective punishment of civilians living in the occupied Palestinian territory is leading to unimaginable levels of death and suffering'.
"We urge the Catholic community in England and Wales to pray for peace and reconciliation and to learn more about the background to this conflict, including the role played by Britian during the period of the Mandate (1920-1948). We urge Catholics to raise the voice of peace and justice in their communities with their elected representatives.
"In particular, we urge all Catholics to take a stand against antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes in their own communities. We share the concern of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who has appealed for “restraint and the total avoidance of hateful language and action, as the impact of this conflict is felt in communities here.
"Catholics in England and Wales can also respond in charity to the worsening situation by donating to the CAFOD appeal. Donations to the Crisis Appeal will support those affected and get funds to local trusted experts who have been working alongside communities helping those most in need to receive urgent humanitarian aid including food, water and emergency shelter. You can donate to the CAFOD appeal here."
Speaking yesterday, Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD said:
"For six weeks we have seen bloodshed upon bloodshed - over 12,000 Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been killed, including several staff from our partner organisations and their families. Politicians from every political party must call for a ceasefire, now- not next week, or next month.
"A humanitarian pause does not go far enough. Only a ceasefire can put an end to the killing of civilians, ensure hostages are freed and allow enough aid to meet the huge humanitarian need. Our partners have told us of the unspeakable realities of coping without enough fuel, electricity, water or food.
"We cannot sit by and watch as this humanitarian catastrophe unfolds before our eyes. As Pope Francis says, 'war is always a defeat'."