When I was told I would be leading a delegation of Palestinians to meet His Holiness Pope Francis, I was in awe and nervous as to what I would say and how I would respond to his audience.
While I was born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and I work at the Bethlehem Bible College, much of my family lives in Gaza. Since Oct. 7, I have lost one aunt to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. My uncle also died when his appendix ruptured and the hospitals in Gaza were unable to treat him. A second aunt injured in the Israeli shelling had to have surgery on her hip without anesthetics.
Together with other Palestinians who have been affected by the war, I was invited to the Vatican on Nov. 22 to personally meet with His Holiness. He wanted to hear directly from us what is happening in Gaza, and we did our best to convey to him our stories and the hopes of our people.
I will always cherish the visit to the Vatican and meeting the pope. What I was disappointed with, though, was the attitude of some at the Vatican, who tried to bully us to keep us from speaking about what we heard from His Holiness.
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