Pope John Paul II said Saturday that efforts must be intensified to avert war in Iraq. His call for peace was the latest in a series made by the Pope, who has said in the past that war is always a defeat for humanity.

The Pope said tensions and winds of war exist at present and that humanity is being tempted by hatred and violence. He added that the world must make every effort to avoid a war.

In Pope John Paul's words, "we cannot stop when faced with either terror attacks or the threats that are on the horizon." He stressed that humanity must not resign itself to the inevitability of war. He called on everyone to take the path that leads to peace, dialogue and hope.

The Pope's words came in an address to a peace group, the Roman Catholic community of Sant'Egidio, known for its efforts to broker peace in African nations.

His call for peace also comes ahead of what is expected to be an intense period of efforts by the Vatican to stop a conflict.

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, is scheduled to meet with the Pope at the Vatican next Friday. And U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected at the Vatican on February 18.

Pope John Paul has made numerous calls for peace and dialogue to avert a war in Iraq. He has said in the past that war would be a defeat for humanity.

Various officials at the Vatican have voiced its opposition to a pre-emptive war. The head of the Vatican's justice and peace department, Renato Martino, said this week that a conflict could lead to terrorism and civilian casualties.

He said the information that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the United Nations was unconvincing and vague. The Vatican has made clear it is not persuaded that a conflict in Iraq is justified.