While receiving nine new ambassadors to the Vatican, the Pope took advantage of the occasion to make a public appeal for peace in the Mideast and the world at large.
"During my Jubilee pilgrimage to Greece, Syria and Malta, in St. Paul´s footsteps, I followed closely the tragic events that were taking place in the Middle East region," the Holy Father said on his 81st birthday.
"I would like to take advantage again of the presence of a large number of diplomats to renew more forcefully my appeal for peace in all continents, requesting those responsible for social life to take courageous decisions that will commit their people decisively to undertake the road to peace and reconciliation," he added.
It was a day of new violence in the Mideast. At least five Palestinians died, following an attack by Israeli helicopters on a security barracks in the West Bank city of Naplusa. The Israeli attack took place just hours after the death of six people, in a suicide bomb attack in an Israeli commercial center.
According to the Pope, "the peace and security of individuals and communities are essential goods." One cannot think, he said, "of a country that constructs its future by removing the peoples that surround it and the cultural and ethnic differences that make them up."
The Pope concluded by appealing "with all my strength so that all diplomatic services will be committed to a negotiated solution of the various conflicts and sources of tension" around the world.