John Paul II Closely Following News of Military Air Strikes

Synod Joins Holy Father in Prayer for Peace

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2001 ( John Paul II is following with profound concern the news of the United States´ and allied countries´ air strikes against military targets in Afghanistan in retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Pontiff expressed his feelings just hours after the first wave of bombings had ended Sunday.

«First of all, I wish to share with you and entrust to the Lord the anguish and concern awakened in us by this delicate moment in international life,» the Holy Father said when he addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square for a beatification Mass.

John Paul II also requested that participants at the Synod of Bishops begin today´s session with a prayer for peace.

In the presence of the Holy Father, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the current president of the assembly, recited in Latin a brief prayer for peace in the world and especially in Afghanistan.

The cardinal´s prayer was as follows: «Having seen, yesterday evening, the grave news of events in Afghanistan, let us ask God to enlighten the leaders of nations, so that they may find the path to peace.»

«Lord, grant us peace!» the cardinal concluded. His words were followed by a few moments of silence.

Meanwhile, the United States launched a second night of aerial strikes against military and terrorist targets inside Afghanistan as President George W. Bush vowed to bring «evildoers to justice.»

Attorney General John Ashcroft warned Americans to be vigilant against the threat of more attacks on U.S. soil.

The United States also notified the U.N. Security Council that counterterrorism attacks may be extended beyond Afghanistan.

A legal document sent to the council insisted the attack on the Taliban was an act of self-defense under the U.N. charter and said the United States reserves the right to strike at terrorist cells beyond the South Asian country, a senior administration official told the Associated Press today.

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