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Pope Expresses Concern Over Escalating Mideast Fighting


Pope Benedict XVI is expressing grave concern over the escalation of fighting in Lebanon, while denouncing terrorism and retaliation in the Holy Land.

Pope Benedict XVI is expressing serious concern over the escalation of violence in the Middle East. He was spoke from his mountain retreat in the Italian Alps, where he is on vacation until the end of this month.

In recent days, the pope said, the news coming from the Holy Land is for everyone a reason for new and serious preoccupation.

Violence has intensified in the Middle East after Hezbollah guerrillas, based in southern Lebanon pounded the Israeli city of Haifa with rockets and missiles, killing at least eight people. It was Hezbollah's deadliest rocket strike on Israel in at least 10 years.

Israel warned residents in southern Lebanon to flee before an imminent Israeli attack.

The pope said that, neither terrorist attacks, nor reprisals, particularly when there are tragic consequences for the civilian population, can in any way be justified.

Pope Benedict said the causes of such fierce confrontation are, unfortunately, violation of law and justice. He prayed that "the responsible politicians are brought along the path of reason and open new possibilities for dialogue and understanding."

The pope also said that Sunday was the feast day of the Madonna of Carmel, a mountain in the Holy Land, which dominates Haifa. He urged local churches to pray especially for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.