Pontiff Remembers "Small but Fervent" Gaza Parish

Notes Hope That Israelis, Palestinians Will Listen to One Another

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is again calling for peace in the Middle East, saying that hatred and a lack of trust are also forms of poverty that must be combated.

The Pope took up the theme of peace in the Holy Land at the end of his homily today, World Peace Day, which has as a theme this year «Fighting Poverty to Build Peace.»

His exhortation today was joined to an appeal he made Sunday during his address for the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father deplored the «intense violence unleashed in the Gaza Strip, in answer to more violence,» and he affirmed that «also violence, also hatred and a lack of trust are forms of poverty — perhaps more dreadful forms — that must be fought.»

Today, as Israel’s attack of Gaza continued for the sixth day, more than 400 Gazans had been killed.

The Pontiff spoke of the «profound desire to live in peace in the hearts of the great majority of the Israeli and Palestinian populations, which is once again endangered by the intense violence.»

In this regard, he expressed his «well-founded hope that, with the wisdom and farsighted contribution of everyone, it will not be impossible to listen to one another, to go out to meet each other and give concrete answers to the widespread aspiration to live in peace, in security and dignity.»

Benedict XVI made special mention of the pastors of the local Churches, and particularly «those of the small but fervent parish of Gaza.»

With these faithful, the Pope «placed at the feet of Mary the concerns of the present and the fears for the future,» and he asked her intercession to «obtain from God the gift of peace for the Holy Land and for all of humanity.»

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