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Preaching at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Marylebone, Cardinal Vincent Nichols asked the faithful to pray for peace in the aftermath of a surprise attack by fighters from Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel from Gaza on 7th October.

The incursion has resulted in hundreds of deaths and reports of over 100 hostages captured. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is 'at war'. Retaliatory strikes have killed hundreds in Gaza.

Cardinal Vincent said: 'Today I also ask your prayers that, at the intercession of Mary, the Holy Spirit may be a bringer of peace in the conflicts spreading at this time in Israel and Gaza. Having visited Gaza on two occasions, my heart goes out to its people who will now bear the consequences of the attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

'Violence is never a solution. Retribution is never a contribution to peace. Please pray today for that peace. Pray for all who have lost their lives and for the immediate release of those taken hostage.

'Pray especially for the small but active Catholic community in Gaza City who at this moment will be reaching out courageously to their neighbours, trying to offer shelter and support.

'Today please pray the great prayer of the Rosary that this conflict, in the homeland of Mary herself, will quickly come to an end.'

Photo: Cardinal celebrating Mass for the community in Gaza (Mazur/