Prayer Meeting Appeals to ETA to End Violence

John Paul Sends Message on the Occasion

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VITORIA, Spain, JAN. 14, 2001 ( .- An interdiocesan prayer meeting to help foster peace and end ETA terrorism attracted about 50,000 people, organizers said.

The event Saturday was an unprecedented joint initiative by the dioceses of San Sebastian, Bilbao, Vitoria and Pamplona-Tudela.

Gathering under the theme «Peace for All Among All,» the initiative brought together people of all political tendencies, who went to Vitoria to pray for an end to terrorism and violence by the ETA separatist group.

John Paul II, in a message to the gathering, stressed, «It is necessary to raise one´s voice again in favor of the value of life, security, physical integrity and liberty, emphasizing that peace cannot be invoked when life is despised.»

The bishop of Rome advocated the re-establishment of «just and harmonious understanding among men, families and peoples in the Basque nation, in Navarre, and throughout the beloved Spanish nation, profoundly affected by the cruelty of the present situation, due to the terrorist violence that has lasted for years.»

The Papal message ends with a special reference to youth, to reject «violence, be friends of peace, men of prayer for peace, and builders of peace.»

One of the most significant moments of the meeting took place when Bishop Fernando Sebastian of Pamplona read a statement, written jointly by all the bishops of the Basque and Navarre dioceses.

«We believe in the pacifying force of truth,» he said. «We reject lies as a strategy, and the manipulation of truth in the service of political interests. We rely on the liberating virtue of truth.»

In this way, the bishops of the Basque nation and Navarre confirmed their confidence in «the need for dialogue to find ways of understanding and stable peace. We need and want political representatives to talk and seek together the good of all. We commit ourselves to promote a social climate of dialogue, born of mutual respect and listening.»

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