Pope Receives Israeli and Palestinian Delegates to Promote Peace

Assures Holy See´s Commitment to Ending Violence

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II publicly reaffirmed the Holy See´s commitment to helping bring an end to violence in the Middle East.

The Pope´s comments came after today´s general audience, when he met Israel´s Deputy Foreign Minister, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and the Minister of State of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Talal Sidr. The two were introduced by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem.

Also present at the meeting were Emile Jarjoui, president of the (Palestinian) High Ministerial Commission for Ecclesiastical Affairs; Yosef Neville Lamdan, Israel´s ambassador to the Vatican; and the Reverend Andrew White, the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury´s special envoy for the Mideast.

All had taken part in an interreligious meeting for peace in the Holy Land, held in Alexandria, at the initiative of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.

«We are all saddened by the daily instances of violence and death in Israel and the Palestinian Territories,» the Holy Father told the delegates and pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall.

«Our mission as men and women of religion impels us to pray for peace, to proclaim peace, and to do everything in our power to help bring an end to the bloodshed,» the Pope added.

«I reiterate the firm determination of the Catholic Church to work for a just peace. May Almighty God bless your efforts to foster reconciliation and trust between all the beloved people of the Holy Land,» John Paul II concluded.

The declaration, which Dr. Carey called the «First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land,» included a seven-point pledge by the leaders to use their «religious and moral authority to work for an end to the violence and the resumption of the peace process.»

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