Pope Requests Prayers for "Precious Gift" of Peace

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- On a day when a U.S. ultimatum to Saddam Hussein expires, John Paul II requested prayers for peoples menaced by war and for harmony and peace.



The Pope made his request today at the general audience, which gathered 10,000 pilgrims on the solemnity of St. Joseph.

"May St. Joseph, universal patron of the Church, watch over the entire ecclesial community and, as the man of peace that he was, obtain for the whole of humanity, especially for the peoples menaced in this time of war, the precious gift of harmony and peace," the Holy Father said.

When bidding the pilgrims farewell, the Pontiff greeted many people who came to the Vatican carrying the Benedictine Torch of Peace, which was lit in New Norcia, Australia, and would be taken later to Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict (480-547), patriarch of Western monasticism, patron of Europe, and founder of the Benedictine order.

The Holy Father hoped that "in these hours of trepidation over peace, this traditional initiative will contribute to rekindle in spirits a resolute will for harmony and reconciliation."