Death Has Even Reached Basilica of Bethlehem, Pope Laments

«Dishonors the Holiness of God and the Dignity of Man»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2001 ( John Paul II made an impassioned appeal today for the rejection of violence, especially in the Holy Land.

The Pope made his appeal at the end of the beatification ceremony of a Roman couple, Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, in St. Peter´s Basilica, following a day of intense Israeli military operations in Bethlehem and its surroundings. Two women and two youths died in the clashes.

«Unfortunately, at this time there is no lack of menacing situations, which make the whole of humanity anxious,» the Pope said, before reciting the Angelus.

«With great sadness, I received the painful and worrying news of Bethlehem, as also that of the city of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour,» he added. «War and death even reached the square of the Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lord.»

«In the name of God I repeat once again: For all, violence is only a way of death and destruction, which dishonors the holiness of God and the dignity of man,» John Paul II exhorted.

«To the families that are victims of violence, I express my closeness in sorrow, prayer, and hope. They have the gift of living in the land that is holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims. All must be determined to make it, finally, a land of peace and fraternity,» the Holy Father concluded.

Israeli military operations have been extended to all Palestinian territories in response to last Wednesday´s assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi. Over the past five days, one Israeli and 21 Palestinians have been killed, including one this morning.

This past year, 647 Palestinians and 177 Israelis have been killed in violence.

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