Houston Catholics and Pope Francis's ask for peace amid Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Alex Bozarjian Image
Monday, December 25, 2023
Christmas Eve reflections: Houston Catholics and Pope Francis pray for peace in Israel, Palestine, and Ukraine
The season of giving has many reflecting on those stuck in the grips of violence and unrest.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The season of giving has many reflecting on those stuck in the grips of violence and unrest.

In his own Christmas Eve homily, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Palestine, Israel, and Ukraine.

He also mentioned the annual celebration in Bethlehem, the biblical birthplace of Jesus, was halted due to the Israel-Hamas war.

The co-cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston welcomed hundreds for a Christmas Eve mass. Many in attendance also prayed for peace.

"Looking back on this year, there has been a lot of sadness," said Bina Dara, a parishioner.

Dara and her husband are like many who came to church Sunday evening feeling grateful.

"We think about the wars that are going on, we think about the poverty, we think about so many people in need," said Anil Dara. "I think it is a time to reflect on all that."

The co-cathedral opened its doors for a 4 p.m. Christmas Eve mass.

The 32,000 square foot sanctuary may be worlds away from Vatican City, but many were reflecting on Pope Francis' Christmas Eve homily from earlier in the day.

He said, "Our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war."

The pope is referring to the conflict sparked by Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack and hostage-taking in Israel, and continued by subsequent Israeli military attacks and hostage-taking in Gaza.

"It's going to take a lot of, besides people, countries to change the facts on the ground as they exist today," said Scott Libeling, a parishioner.

Dara says the images of war in Gaza are troubling, but she finds guidance here in these pews. She can't help but feel lucky her family will be home safe for the holidays.

"I am here today with my family, and I can never give enough thanks to god for the family that I have," said Dara.

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