Cardinal Pizzaballa & Moral Equivalence

Moral equivalence is in Rome’s saddle. The Vatican has forgotten the moral necessity of praying to win. Does the concept of victory over Islam, that darling of the interfaith crowd, make our clergy uncomfortable? It certainly seems so.

Yesterday, October 21, was the second Saturday after Hamas’ onslaught against Israel. My local parish e-bulletin arrived in the morning with this bit of uplift:

I was deeply moved to hear that the Latin Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem offered himself as an exchange for the children hostages held by Hamas. (If you are reading this online, see the story here.) An elderly Cardinal offering himself to terrorists in exchange for children being freed? Following Christ does not get any more literal than that.

Fr. Luke

Fr. Luke’s sentimental credulity disappoints. He took at face value an interchange that has the marks of a pre-arranged Q&A. Follow his link to the Catholic News Agency write-up. The cardinal did not initiate the touted “offer.” It was hardly a spontaneous cri de coeur. Rather, it came in response to a journalist’s question:

Speaking to journalists via video conference on Oct.16, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa was asked if he would be willing to offer himself in exchange to free the children hostages who were taken in Hamas’ attack on Israel last week. The cardinal responded that he is willing to do anything to “bring those children home.”

The question was out of left-field. Rash and improbable. No potential question of such diplomatic significance—one fraught with international repercussions— would be asked in public. And no genuine response would be made off the cuff and outside closed doors. That the cardinal engaged it on camera for CNA’s audience lends weight to the impression of staginess.

Palestinians kidnap Israeli civilian
Palestinians transport a captured Israeli civilian from Kibbutz Kfar Azza into the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.


When was the last time you heard a high-ranking prelate—or any at all in whatever front-page conflict—asked if he would trade his own neck for—of course!—the children? Are readers assumed to be too gullible to ask why the anonymous journalist specified only children? Not women or the elderly? Not sick or suffering hostages? Just children?

Tots make the most endearing photo-op for PR purposes. There was nothing Christ-like about this. It was a set-up for image-making.

If the cardinal were in earnest, he could walk across the border and deliver himself to Hamas. He knows that Hamas is too media savvy—exquisitely attuned to world opinion—to pull even a thread from his zucchetto. Besides, as a hostage ripe for ransom, Pizzaballa would be worth a fortune to Hamas.

So you wonder: What would be the point of this staged call-and-response? One possible guess—and it is only a guess—is to cover the cardinal’s naked sympathies that were laid bare in his initial statements on October 7.

On the day of Hamas’ onslaught against Israel, Pizzaballa, speaking as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, issued a telling statement: “The operation launched from Gaza and the reaction of the Israeli army . . . will destroy more and more any perspective of stability.” Stability? While blood was still wet on kibbutzim walls—gore still on the floors—the cardinal erased all distinction between Gaza’s willful massacre of non-combatant Jews and Israel’s defensive response. He positioned both sides on the same moral plane.

Who is this man?

In 2014, Pope Francis granted Pizzaballa, a Franciscan, responsibility for arranging a ballyhooed prayer fest in the Vatican Gardens with Israel’s then-president Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas. At the time, Pizzabella was head of the Franciscan priory called Custody of the Holy Land.

[Abbas never apologized for his role—together with Yasser Arafat—behind the terrorists who committed the infamous massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. Nonetheless, Francis and his proxy dignified an unrepentant terrorist honcho by showcasing Abbas at a Vatican spectacle.]

Pope Francis made Pizzaballa the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in November, 2020. He gave the patriarch a red hat this September 30—one week before Hamas’ murderous incursion into Israel. That was just in time for the new cardinal to insinuate sympathy for the homicidal Gazans. His Excellency described the Gaza Strip as “an open-air prison,” using a catchphrase from the alternative universe of leftist grievance. He referred to “occupied territories,” the reigning term of abuse that names Israel as a colonial oppressor. Trumpeted successfully by Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority (PA), the term does not square with history.


the burning of Jews (c.1353)
Anonymous. The Burning of Jews (c. 1353). Jews were popularly blamed for the global epidemic of bubonic plague.


Contrary to the narrative of  “occupation,” Palestinian resentment of Israel’s existence preceded Israel’s presence in Gaza. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964—three years before Israel won legitimate control of the West Bank and Gaza defending itself in the Six Day War of 1967. The PLO’s founding purpose was to eliminate Israel by means of armed conflict.

Moreover, Israel had removed itself from Gaza in 2005. All settlements were dismantled, all military installations were withdrawn eighteen years ago. If Gaza can be called a colony, its elected colonizer is Hamas.

Surely Pizzaballa knows this. But history appears fungible to Pizzaballa who takes his language from the left. As Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, he is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the pope. Francis knows his man.

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Our pope is enamored of the illusion of moral equivalence between the state of Israel and the Palestinians. On October 10, his secretary of state, Cardinal Parolin, called for “coexistence” between the two. Parolin advocated “for the cessation of all violent and military activities that bring harm to both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.” Absent was any recognition of the identity of the aggressors or the history of their repeated wars and terrorist operations against Israeli since 1948. In that year, five Arab armies invaded the nascent state in an effort to eradicate it. It was only the first war. More kept coming.

Israel’s embassy to the Vatican rightly criticized the cardinal’s statements as “immoral linguistic ambiguity.”

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On October 18, Francis declared October 27 a day of prayer. He exhorted believers “to take only one side in the conflict, that of peace.” His counsel is cruel in its absurdity. Peace does not fall like dew. It has to be achieved on the ground by victory of one side over another. Which side of the Israel-Gaza border holds the greater promise of establishing and maintaining a just peace? Francis and his equivocal courtiers will not say.

Anti-semitic Qatari cartoon
Antisemitic cartoons are common in Qatari newspapers.


Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch reports that the PA will pay a total of $2,789,430 to families of the 1,500 dead Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel two weeks ago.

In addition, the 50 captured Hamas terrorist murderers will receive monthly salaries in prison starting at 1,400 shekels/month which will eventually rise to 12,000 shekels/month. Terrorists who are married and have children will receive even higher salaries. This month these newly arrested terrorists will receive at least 70,000 shekels ($17,590).

In short, Jew-hatred pays. Palestinians have been given a financial incentive to raise “martyrs.” A dead or imprisoned terrorist insures a life-time allowance for his family.

NOTE: A concise and illuminating list of often forgotten facts about Israel and the Middle East was compiled in 2002 by William Bennett, Jack Kemp, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick. It is still online at Jewish World Review.