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Vatican Renews Urgent Call for Middle East Ceasefire

Pope Benedict has renewed an urgent appeal for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, to end a crisis he describes as ever more serious and tragic.

Speaking Sunday near Rome, the pontiff said he sees a deteriorating situation, with "hundreds dead and many wounded" in Israel's fight with Hezbollah guerrillas.

Benedict also noted "a huge number" of homeless and displaced people and the destruction of homes and infrastructure. He said hatred and the desire for revenge appear to be growing.

"In the name of God," Benedict said, "I call on those responsible for this spiral of violence" to take steps "so that weapons are immediately laid down on all sides."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.