John Paul II Condemns Assassination in Lebanon

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2005 ( John Paul II condemned the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, and assured his prayers for peace in the Middle East.

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In a telegram sent today through Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, to Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, the Pope said that “this criminal gesture,” in which 17 people died Monday, “offends God and men, created in his image and likeness.”

“Praying ardently for the cherished land of Lebanon,” the Pope “implores once again the mercy of God on the region of the Middle East, which aspires to a just and lasting peace,” stated the telegram.

John Paul II invited “all the Catholic faithful of Lebanon to a persevering commitment to peace and the cooperation of all men of good will to build, in dialogue, a future of concord in the country and among the peoples of the region.”

A bomb in Beirut killed Hariri. The front page of today’s Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano had this headline: “In Hariri’s funeral, an imposing crowd calls for the withdrawal of the troops of Damascus.”

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