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Final Chance for Peace

JERUSALEM (CNS): As spiralling violence in the Middle East brought Israelis and Palestinians to the brink of all-out war last week, Church leaders appealed for a change of heart and a return to the negotiating table.

In Jerusalem, Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah said justice for the Palestinian people was the only lasting way to break the chain of violence.

At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II made an impassioned appeal for an immediate end to the new wave of fighting, which left more than 100 people dead and thousands injured.

“With great anguish,” he said on October 11 following his weekly general audience, “we are following the serious tension in the Middle East, once again shaken by events that have caused numerous victims and have not even spared holy places.”

The Pope called on both sides to end the conflict and take up the “path of dialogue in order to find again the joy of being children of God, their common father”.

On October 10, Israel’s Minister for Regional Co-operation, Shimon Peres, met with Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran. Mr Peres told reporters that a Vatican call for a stop to the violence “may be of value and can help bring things back to normalcy”.

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