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Pope Benedict Condemns Gaza Violence

VOA, January 18, 2008

At his weekly Sunday noon prayer, Pope Benedict XVI again condemned the violence in Gaza that has killed hundreds of "innocent victims". 

Pope Benedict told those gathered in Saint Peter's Square to pray to the Lord for the hundreds of children, elderly, women who have fallen as innocent victims of unheard of violence.

He called for prayers for the success of all efforts "to end the tragedy" in Gaza and bring about lasting peace.  He was speaking just hours before a summit on the crisis at Sharm El-Sheik, in Egypt.

The pope did not specifically mention either the Israeli or Palestinian side in the conflict, but said he wanted to encourage those who believe there is room for everyone in the Holy Land.  He expressed the hope that all sides could help their populations pick themselves up from the ruins and the terror and bravely pick up again the thread of dialogue, in justice and in truth.

Pope Benedict sent aid Saturday to the Gaza Strip for Catholics there to distribute to Palestinian victims of the conflict.

The 22-day-long campaign to stop Hamas firing rockets into Israeli territory has killed at least 1,300 people, including more than 400 children.  Large areas of Gaza are now in ruins.  

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