Pope expresses alarm at Holy Land violence, urges dialogue for peace

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI expressed alarm at a new wave of violence in the Holy Land and urged Israelis and Palestinians to set aside the logic of revenge.

"In recent days, violence and horror have once again bloodied the Holy Land, feeding a spiral of destruction and death that seems to have no end," the pope said at his noon blessing March 9.

On March 6, a Palestinian gunman killed eight Jewish seminarians and wounded 11 others. The attack came after an Israeli military assault on Gaza left more than 100 Palestinians dead.

The pope prayed for the innocent victims of the attacks and expressed his condolences to the families of the dead and wounded. He asked everyone to pray for peace in the region.

"I ask everyone, in the name of God, to leave the twisted paths of hatred and revenge and to responsibly take up the paths of dialogue and trust," he said.

In particular, the pope encouraged Israeli and Palestinian authorities not to give up on a negotiated settlement that can bring "a peaceful and just future for their peoples."

The pope also appealed on behalf of victims of violence in Iraq, including Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, who was kidnapped Feb. 29 in an attack that left his driver and two bodyguards dead. The pope had earlier urged the bishop's release.

The pope said so many Iraqis "continue to suffer from blind and absurd violence, which is certainly against God's will."

Copyright © 2008 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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