Pope Benedict XVI reissues exhortation for peace in Middle East

.- At the conclusion of his weekly General Audience today in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for those in the Middle East and renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire in region.

The Pope said, “with a heart overflowing with sorrow, I renew yet again my pressing appeal for the immediate cessation of all hostilities and violence.”

“I would like to repeat,” the Pope said, “that it is never possible to justify the spilling of innocent blood, no matter from which side it comes!”

The Pontiff, who has been calling for peace since the hostilities began, invited everyone to continue praying for the region.  “Our eyes are filled with the chilling images of the tortured bodies of many persons, above all of children - I think especially of Qana in Lebanon.”

Benedict referred, in part, to an apartment building, which was targeted by Israeli missiles on Sunday.  The bombing left nearly 60 Lebanese refugees dead, most of whom were children.  

The Guardian reports today that UNICEF estimates 290 children have been killed in the conflict to date and that somewhere near 45% of those forced to flee their homes have been children.

The Holy Father also exhorted the international community to get involved immediately to, “push the conditions for a definitive political solution to the crisis - one which is able to deliver a more peaceful and secure way for generations to come.”


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