USCCB president urges Israel to ‘find a way to negotiate’ to protect civilians — By: Catholic News Agency

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, meets with reporters in Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2022. / Credit: Joe Bukuras/CNA

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2023 / 15:03 pm (CNA).

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Timothy Broglio, on Tuesday called on Israel to pursue negotiations in its war with Hamas terrorists.

When asked about Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip and civilian casualties suffered since the outbreak of the war, Broglio said it is an issue he feels “very strongly about” and said that Israel should “find a way to negotiate.” 

“I realize the atrocities that were committed against the Israelis in a certain sense provoked a response. But I think that response should always be between warring parties and in some way or another, we should try to save civilians and try to keep them out of the conflict,” Broglio said at a press conference at the bishops’ annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

More than 1,200 Israelis were killed and thousands more were wounded in the wake of Hamas’ large-scale surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to Israeli authorities. In response, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared war on Hamas, initiating a campaign that has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths.

“I think everyone would recognize that Israel has a superior military force. They should be able to perhaps try and find some way to negotiate. I know that they’ve taken the position that they won’t negotiate until all of the hostages have been released. But I don’t know that that justifies attacking, particularly where civilians could be injured and have been injured,“ he said.

“I would certainly always be one who would advocate for negotiation before entering into conflict,” said Broglio, who represents U.S. servicemen and servicewomen as archbishop for the Military Services, USA.

Broglio was also asked to comment on a recent interview published in the Jesuit magazine America with Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States. In the interview the cardinal reflected on the state of the Catholic Church in the U.S., which he said was characterized by empty churches and seminaries.

In response, Broglio, who was elected president of USCCB in 2022, said that he disagreed with Pierre, who was recently named a cardinal by Pope Francis.

“I don’t think that really reflects the reality of the Church in the United States. Certainly our churches are not empty yet. We’re trying our best to make sure that that continues to be the case. We have a number of seminaries that are actually at capacity,” Broglio said.

“I think there’s been a concerted effort, both for the Eucharistic Revival and for the whole notion of preaching the good news. So I think there might be a little bit of a dichotomy between what was presented in that article and what the reality is. That’s my perception,” he said.

Broglio added that he and Pierre had “talked about the article a little bit.”

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