Only God Can Free Us from Thirst for Vengeance, John Paul II Says

Celebrates Day of Prayer for Peace in Middle East

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2002 ( Amid ongoing Mideast violence, John Paul II appealed for peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the name of the one God in whom Jews, Muslims and Christians believe.

Only God «can give the energies that are necessary to be freed from hatred and the thirst for vengeance and undertake the way of negotiation for peace as in the agreement,» John Paul II said.

The Pontiff had asked Catholics to unite today in a Day of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East. Prayer vigils were organized worldwide Saturday and Masses were offered today for the intention.

Before reciting the midday Regina Caeli at St. Peter´s Square, the Pope reminded his listeners that no one can spill his brother´s blood. He quoted from Genesis 9:6: «If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has man been made.»

«How is it possible to forget that, following Abraham´s example, Israelis and Palestinians believe in the one God?» the Holy Father asked. «To him, whom Jesus revealed as the merciful Father, is raised the joint prayer of Christians who repeat with St. Francis of Assisi: ´Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.´»

John Paul II remembered especially the Franciscans, Greek-Orthodox and Orthodox Armenians who are shut in in Bethlehem´s Basilica of the Nativity, and assured them of his prayers.

About 200 Palestinians, many of them armed, sought refuge last Tuesday in the basilica following Israeli occupation of this autonomous Palestinian city.

The Pope chose this particular date for the day of prayer for peace because it is Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast he instituted during the Jubilee Year 2000.

The messenger of the devotion to Divine Mercy was a Polish nun, Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938). She had extraordinary spiritual experiences, including visions and revelations. Her mysticism centered on consecration to Divine Mercy and the motto «Jesus, I trust in you.»

«Wherever trials and difficulties are harsher, may invocation of the risen Lord be more insistent, and invocation for the gift of the Holy Spirit, source of love and peace, be more heartfelt,» the Pope exhorted.

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