The United States and Iran both tried to curry favor with the Vatican on Sunday amid the conflict in Israel and Palestine. President Joe Biden held a call with Pope Francis on Sunday as Iran's foreign minister sent a letter to his Vatican counterpart. File Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The United States and Iran both tried to curry favor with the Vatican on Sunday amid the conflict in Israel and Palestine.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian sent a letter Sunday to Paul Richard Gallagher - his Vatican counterpart -- calling on the Roman Catholic Church to "defend the rights and lives of the nation of Palestine."
Palestine, a nation that has observer status with the United Nations, is recognized by the majority of countries around the world. It includes the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.
"The terrible crime of the Zionist regime's attack on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital and the bombing of the historic [Greek Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrius] in Gaza, where children and women were sheltering, shows another aspect of the brutal and malicious nature of the Zionist regime," Amir-Abdollahian said.
Amir-Abdollahian referenced an Israeli air strike that killed more than a dozen Christian Palestinians sheltered in the church. "This shows that the Israeli regime implements systematic apartheid not only against Muslims but also against the followers of all Abrahamic religions, including Christians," he said.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden called Pope Francis on Sunday, according to a readout provided by the White House.
"Today, President Joseph R. Biden spoke with His Holiness Pope Francis to discuss 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.
"He discussed his 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 news came as the Church of England joined Catholic and Orthodox churches around the globe in calling for a ceasefire after the air strike on Gaza.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the primate of the Church of England, visited Jerusalem and met with church leaders who together released a statement of solidarity with Christian Palestinians. The statement was largely critical of Israel.
"Let's hope that reason returns to those who make decisions," said Pierbattista Pizzaballa -- the head of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem seated in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in comments to Italian Catholic television TV2000. "War and bombs have never solved problems; on the contrary, they always create new ones."