During their meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday, the head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) requested his assistance in securing the release of the hostages that the militant Hamas group had captured after their October 7 attack on Israel.
The attack claimed the lives of over 1,400 Israelis, while more than 200 civilians were kidnapped by gunmen and transported to the Gaza Strip. In response, Israeli airstrikes resulted in almost 3,500 deaths, according to Palestinian sources.
“We ask Your Holiness to use your power, to use your strength, to get these hostages released,” Ronald Lauder told the pope, according to a WJC statement. “You may be the only person who has the moral authority to do this.”
Lauder travelled to Rome for the opening of a WJC representative office at the Vatican. His meeting with Francis was arranged before the latest flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Vatican said in a separate statement.