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Pope Hoping Rome Meeting Would Be Fruitful

Pope Hoping Rome Meeting Would Be Fruitful

Comments Ahead of Conference on Lebanon Crisis

INTROD, Italy, JULY 26, 2006 ( Benedict XVI had expressed hope that an international conference held in Rome would bring an end to the violence in the Middle East.

The Pope expressed that hope Tuesday as he paused to talk to journalists during his vacation in the Italian Alps. At his residence in Les Combes, after an outing in the mountains, the Holy Father said: "I think something is happening at this moment. I see that prayers are not fruitless."

"Now let us pray intensely so that this conference in Rome will really bear fruits and concrete results for peace and also the solution of problems," the Pontiff said, according to Vatican Radio. "I hope they will get to the root, finding stable and lasting solutions."

Today, however, U.S., European and Arab officials who held the crisis talks on Lebanon failed to agree on an immediate plan to halt the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

During his excursion Tuesday, Benedict XVI made a brief visit to the Marian shrine of Notre Dame de la Guerison, at the foot of Mont Blanc, and paused a few minutes in silent prayer near the altar.

Unexpected visit

Afterward, addressing the faithful present in the shrine -- who were unaware that the Holy Father would visit the church -- he invited them to join him in praying for peace, by reciting the Litany of the Virgin, reported Salvatore Mazza, special correspondent of the newspaper Avvenire.

The Vatican press office announced that the Holy See had been officially invited to attend today's Rome conference as an observer.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, led the Holy See's delegation. He was accompanied by counselors Monsignor Franco Coppola and Monsignor Alberto Ortega Martin.


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