Middle East conflict remains on Pope’s mind during holiday

.- Despite the August summer holidays, the conflict in the Middle East is not forgotten and the decision to start a ceasefire today offers hope, said Pope Benedict XVI yesterday.

The Pope addressed a crowd of pilgrims from his summer residence at Castelgandolfo, prior to the Sunday Angelus. He said he hopes humanitarian aid will quickly get to the people in the war-torn region and that, “it is everyone’s hope that peace will prevail.”

The Pope also recalled that while many use their summer holiday to visit with family or to tour a new country, many others who are alone, such as the elderly and the sick, do not have the possibility to do so. To those homebound, or simply unable to travel, the Pope expressed his spiritual closeness. The entire month of August is used for summer holidays in most of Europe.

The Pope said that summer holidays also allow many people the opportunity for longer periods of prayer and contemplation, either in nature or in monasteries, or for spiritual reading.

Those who experience this restfulness of the spirit know how useful it is not to reduce vacation time only to entertainment. He urged the faithful to continue to attend Sunday Eucharist during their summer holiday, saying: “Wherever we find ourselves, we always need to be nourished by the Eucharist.”

After the Angelus, the Pope addressed the pilgrims in French, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish. Among the Polish pilgrims were family members of the victims who died in the recent roof collapse. To them, he extended his sympathies and his blessing.

He also urged the pilgrims to continue to persevere in their faith and wished all of them a good stay at Castelgandolfo and in Rome, one that would deepen their faith in God. “Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of God’s blessings of peace and joy,” he said.

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