VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the letter John Paul II sent Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, to convoke the Day of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East, held today.
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To Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State
The dramatic situation in the Holy Land induces me to once again urgently appeal to the entire Church, asking all believers to intensify their prayers for those populations now being lacerated by forms of unheard-of violence. Precisely in this period, in which the hearts of Christians turn towards the places where the Lord Jesus suffered so much, died and arose, we receive ever more tragic news that adds to the growing dismay of public opinion, provoking the impression of an unstoppable tendency for inhuman brutality.
In the face of the stubborn determination with which both sides continue to go forth on the road of revenge and vendetta, what appears to the anguished souls of believers is the prospect of recourse to prayer to that God Who, alone, can change the hearts of men, even the most obstinate.
Next Sunday, April 7, the Church will celebrate with special fervor the mystery of Divine Mercy, and will give thanks to He Who took upon Himself the afflictions of our humanity. What could be a more suitable occasion to raise to heaven a choral invocation of pardon and mercy that implores the Heart of God for a special intervention upon all those who have responsibility and power to undertake the necessary steps, even if they cost a great deal, to put the parties that are fighting on the path towards just and dignified accords for all?
I would therefore, dear brother, be grateful if you could be the intermediary, in a manner you believe to be opportune, to convey this desire of mine to the pastors of the various particular Churches, inviting them all to offer, next Sunday, a unified plea in such a serious hour for all of mankind. May a message of a stable and lasting peace reach that land that is so dear to the three monotheistic religions.
With this hope, that comes from the deepest part of my heart, I send you and all my brothers in the episcopacy a special apostolic blessing.
From the Vatican, 4 April 2002
IOANNES PAULUS II
[Translation distributed by the Vatican Information Service]