.- During his weekly Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI lamented the growing tragedy in the Middle East and renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire.
"At these moments," the Holy Father told the hundreds of pilgrims gathered in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, "I cannot fail to think of the ever more serious and tragic situation of the Middle East: hundreds of dead, many injured, a vast mass of homeless and displaced people, cities and infrastructures destroyed, while hatred and thirst for revenge seem to be growing in the hearts of many.
"These facts clearly demonstrate," the Pontiff said, "that it is not possible to re-establish justice, create a new order and build real peace when there is recourse to ... violence."
"More than ever, we see how much the Church's voice is at once prophetic and realistic when, in the face of war and conflicts of all kinds, she indicates the path of truth, justice, love and freedom. This is the path that humanity today must also follow in order to achieve the desired good of real peace."
"In the name of God," the Pope cried out, "I address all those responsible for this spiral of violence, that all sides immediately lay down their arms! To political leaders and international institutions I ask that no efforts be spared in order to obtain the necessary cessation of hostilities and thus to begin to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable coexistence of all the people of the Middle East. I ask men and women of good will to continue and to intensify the sending of humanitarian aid to those needy and much tried peoples. But above all, may faithful prayers to the good and merciful God continue to be raised from all hearts, that He may concede His peace to that region and to the world entire.
The Pope also thanked pilgrims gathered and recalled that, apart from a brief apostolic trip to Germany in September, he will stay at Castelgandolfo until the end of the summer. He told them that "with the warmth of their presence (they) help to underline, even in the family atmosphere of my summer residence, the universal ecclesial horizon of this our [regular] appointment with the Marian prayer.
In the context of the Marian prayer of the Angelus, the Pope called again on the prayers of Mary. "I entrust this heartfelt appeal (for peace)," Benedict XVI concluded, "to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, who is so venerated in the countries of the Middle East, where we soon hope to see the reign of that reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus offered His precious Blood."