ROME — Pope Francis prayed for the Holy Land and Venezuela on Sunday as he celebrated the feast of Pentecost.
Francis said “gestures of dialogue and reconciliation” are needed for the Holy Land and all the Middle East, and told roughly 30,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square Sunday he had “united himself spiritually” to a prayer vigil held Saturday in Jerusalem, which, he noted, is holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Earlier, during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope cited the “heartrending” situation in Gaza and prayed that hearts be changed so peace arrives.
Palestinian authorities say more than 110 Palestinians have been killed by live fire during violence across the border between Gaza and Israel since late March. Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, says it aims to relax an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the Palestinian territory through the protests.
The U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem has also fueled tensions.
During his Regina Coeli address, the pope also said he prays that “beloved” Venezuela’s people and rulers will wisely choose peace and unity as the nation elects a new president.
Francis asked that the “Holy Spirit give all the Venezuelan people, everyone, leaders, people, the wisdom to find the path of peace and unity.”
He also prayed for prison inmates who died Saturday. Human rights advocates say 11 people were killed in a Venezuelan prison riot last week sparked by inmates who wrestled a gun from jailers.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to win a second term in the election, despite food shortages and soaring inflation. His main rivals are boycotting due to distrust of the electoral council, which is controlled by government loyalists.
Crux staff contributed to this report.