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Pope Calls for Penance, Prayer This Sunday

For Immediate Cease-fire in Middle East

VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Given the escalation of violence, Benedict XVI has named Sunday as a day of prayer and penance for peace in the Middle East.

A communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office said the decision was due to the “great concern” with which the Holy Father follows “the fate of all the affected peoples.”

With this initiative, the Pope invites “the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace,” explained the Vatican communiqué.

In particular, the Bishop of Rome appeals for prayer to the Lord “for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region.”

According to the Pontiff, “the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis, the right to live in peace in their state, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.”

The communiqué ends with Benedict XVI’s appeal “to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict.”

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