On Retreat, Pope Didn't Forget Troubled Regions

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II proposed to the bloodied countries of Africa and the Middle East the path of reconciliation and forgiveness as the way to overcome violence.

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The Pope made his appeal a day after having concluded his annual spiritual retreat in the Vatican.

«During the week of Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican, I did not forget the painful situations in some countries of Africa, in the Middle East and, above all, in the Holy Land and Iraq,» he said, addressing the crowds gathered today in St. Peter’s Square.

«They are our brothers who suffer from unacceptable acts of violence and terrorism, which can only aggravate the conditions of life of those beloved populations,» the Holy Father added during his greeting before praying the midday Angelus with those present.

«While I pray for them and invite you to pray,» he said, «I would like to ask all once again to undertake the path of forgiveness and reconciliation.»

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