NEWS for the weekend of September 8-10, 2000
POPE URGES NEW PUSH FOR MIDEAST PEACE
VATICAN, Sept. 7 (CWNews.com)
As he received a new ambassador from
Egypt on September 7, Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the peace
process in the Middle East has fallen upon difficult times.
As he accepted the diplomatic credentials of Farouk Hussein Raafat, the Holy
Father praised Egypt for its "central" role in "the search for a just and lasting
peace in the Middle East." He said that the search must continue, and urged
new efforts to address "the many problems that have not yet been resolved,
which have a profound impact on that unstable region."
"The Church is deeply interested" in the peace process, the Pontiff continued,
although the role if the Church is different from that of civil governments.
The role of religions, he explained, is "to educate consciences to the principles
and truths that are the foundation of the welfare of individuals and of
Switching his focus, the Pope then spoke of the joy he had felt when he
visited Egypt in February. During the Jubilee year, he said, it has been "a
great grace for me to visit the sites that have a vital importance in the
religious history of the world." He cited Mount Sinai as one such important
Pope John Paul also alluded to his visit with Sheikh Mohammed Sayed
Tantawi, the leading Muslim authority in Egypt. That visit had helped to
reinforce the "common desire for a new period of religious dialogue"
between Christians and Muslims, he said. The Pontiff added that in an era
marked by violence, it is particularly appalling that believers of different
faiths are often pitted against each other in "bitter conflicts." Religious
leaders, he said, have a "solemn duty to ensure that religious sentiments are
never used as an excuse for hatred and war, particularly when religious
identity coincides with cultural and ethnic identity."
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