Monday, August 07, 2006

 

Pope Benedict pleads for peace

The following is copied entire from Catholic.org

Benedict renews cease-fire appeal, calls for peace in martyred Mideast region
8/7/2006
Catholic Online
(www.catholic.org)

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (Catholic Online) – Pope Benedict XVI expressed dismay that calls for Israel and Hezbollah to end hostilities in the Middle East have gone unheeded, appealing again for an immediate cease-fire and renewed commitment for a just and lasting peace on a day that U.N. diplomatic efforts seemed to fail.

Faced with the “bitter consternation that so far voices calling for an immediate ceasefire in this martyred region have been ignored,” the pope said he felt “the urgency to renew my pressing appeal about this, asking everyone to make their active contribution to the construction of a just and lasting peace,” reported the Catholic news agency AsiaNews.

Benedict made the remarks to thousands of pilgrims in his reflection before the reciting of the Aug. 6 Transfiguration feast day Angelus from his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, a town just south of Rome.

Noting that “peace is above all a gift of God,” Pope Benedict urged both prayer and the commitment of people of good will to “obtain peace for the peoples of the Middle East overwhelmed by fratricidal conflict.”

“Let none,” he said, “shrink from this duty.”

The pope has repeatedly called on both sides to lay down their arms since fighting erupted on July 12 after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

Hezbollah killed 12 Israeli soldiers and three civilians on Aug. 6 in its deadliest rocket strike yet and Israeli bombs killed 19 Lebanese civilians as Lebanon rejected a draft U.N. resolution to end the 26-day-old war.

Sunday's deaths brought to 93 the number of Israelis killed, including 45 soldiers, the 12 reservists and 36 civilians. Israel's attacks on Lebanon through Aug. 6 have killed at least 606 people, including 524 civilians, 29 Lebanese soldiers and at least 53 Hezbollah guerrillas, according to the Associated Press.

Israeli warplanes repeatedly bombed Beirut's southern suburbs and Lebanon's southern and eastern regions on Aug. 7, killing at least 15 people, according to press reports, as both sides in the conflict sought to improve its position before a cease-fire resolution is voted upon by the U.N. Security Council.

Entrusting his renewed appeal for peace “to the intercession of the most blessed virgin,” Pope Benedict tied the meaning of the transfiguration of Jesus to the events of the day.

“On the transfigured face of Jesus shone a ray of the divine light that he guarded within. This very light radiates on the face of Christ on the day of the Resurrection,” he said. “With the risen Christ, truth and love triumph over deceit and sin. In Him, the light of God now illuminates the life of men and the path of history permanently.”

In his Aug. 2 general audience, Pope Benedict again appealed for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East, saying nothing justifies the shedding of innocent blood, especially from so many children of the region.

"Our eyes are filled with the chilling images of people's bodies – especially children's – torn apart. I am thinking particularly of Qana in Lebanon," the pope said. "I want to repeat that nothing can justify the spilling of innocent blood, no matter which side does it."

He urged the international community "and those most directly involved in this tragedy" to move immediately to a "definite political solution of the crisis," one "able to give a more serene and secure future to the generations to come."

At the previous Sunday’s Angelus recitation, the pope said that violence is not the answer to establish justice, to build a new order and to create a lasting peace.

"In the name of God, I address to all those responsible for this spiral of violence that all sides immediately lay down their arms," the pope said.

“To political leaders and international institutions, I ask that no effort be spared in order to obtain the necessary cessation of hostilities,” the pope said, “and thus to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable coexistence of all the people of the Middle East.”

Pope Benedict pointed to the “hundreds of dead, many injured, a vast mass of homeless and displaced people, cities and infrastructures destroyed, while hatred and thirst for revenge seem to be growing in the hearts of many.”

"These facts clearly demonstrate that it is not possible to re-establish justice, create a new order and build real peace when there is recourse to... violence.”

He said that the events of the last three weeks show “the church's voice is at once prophetic and realistic when, in the face of war and conflicts of all kinds.”

“This,” he added, “is the path that humanity today must also follow in order to achieve the desired good of real peace."

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