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Pope Pleads for Mideast Cease-fire

Pope Pleads for Mideast Cease-fire
An Ever More Grave Situation, He Says

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI appealed for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East, hours after Israeli missiles struck several buildings in a southern Lebanon village, killing dozens, most of them children.

"In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their weapons on all sides," the Pope told pilgrims and tourists today at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. They had gathered for the recitation of the midday Angelus.

"In this moment," the Holy Father said, "I cannot help think of the situation, ever more grave and more tragic, that the Middle East is going through: hundreds of dead, many wounded, a huge number of the homeless and refugees; houses, towns and infrastructure destroyed; meanwhile, hatred and the desire for revenge grow in the hearts of many.

"I ask governing leaders and international organizations not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary halt to hostilities and so to be able to begin to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable concord for all the people of the Middle East."

Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas is now in its 19th day.

Benedict XVI, who plans to spend most of the rest of his summer in Castel Gandolfo, said: "I appeal to all people of good to continue and to intensify the shipment of humanitarian help to those populations so tested and needy.

"We entrust this sorrowful petition to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, so venerated in Mideast countries, where we hope to see soon reign this reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus has offered his precious Blood."

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