Pope repeats calls for Mideast cease-fire, cites deaths of children
Published: August 2, 2006
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI renewed his appeal for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East, saying nothing could justify the shedding of innocent blood, particularly the blood of so many children. Three days after an Israeli air raid in Qana, Lebanon, led to the deaths of 56 civilians, including at least 37 children, Pope Benedict asked people attending his Aug. 2 general audience at the Vatican to continue "to pray for the dear and martyred region of the Middle East." "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," he said. "I want to repeat that nothing can justify the spilling of innocent blood, no matter which side does it," the pope said. "With a heart filled with affliction," he said, "once again I renew a pressing appeal for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and all violence." Pope Benedict again asked the international community "and those most directly involved in this tragedy" to move quickly to create the conditions needed for a "definite political solution of the crisis," a solution "able to give a more serene and secure future to the generations to come." The pope's appeal came the morning after Israel began a major ground incursion into southern Lebanon in what was seen as an attempt to severely weaken and root out Hezbollah guerrillas from the border region before a cease-fire is called.
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