VATICAN CITY, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Jewish groups have criticized Pope Francis and demanded clarifications over his comments that they saw as accusing both Hamas and Israel of “terrorism”.
Francis made the comments after meeting separately with Jewish relatives of hostages held by Hamas and with Palestinians with family in Gaza.
Later that day at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square, he spoke of the meetings, saying he felt the pain of both sides.
“This is what wars do. But here we have gone beyond wars.
This is not war. This is terrorism,” he said.
He asked for prayers so that both sides would “not go ahead with passions, which, in the end, kill everyone”.
In a toughly worded statement, the Council of the Assembly of Italian Rabbis (ARI) accused the pope of “publicly accusing both sides of terrorism”.
It went on to accuse unnamed “Church leaders” of not condemning the Hamas attack and of “putting the aggressor and the attacked on the same plane in the name of a supposed impartiality”.
At the Palestinian news conference, those who met with the pope said he condemned Hamas’ action as terror but also quoted him as saying that “terror should not justify terror”. They also quoted him as using the word “genocide” to describe the situation in Gaza.