Pope Says Dialogue Is Only Way to Peace in Holy Land

Condemns Terrorism in Address to Palestinian Christians

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Noting the fresh strife in the Mideast, John Paul II says that peace will only come to the Holy Land through dialogue and the condemnation of violence and terrorism.



The Pope expressed this conviction today when he met with a delegation of Palestinian Christians of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who were in Rome to explain the difficult situation that the faithful face in the Holy Land.

After conveying his greetings to Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, the Holy Father said in a brief address in English: "Despite the recent setbacks on the road to peace and fresh outbreaks of violence and injustice, we must continue to affirm that peace is possible."

The "resolution of differences can only come about through the patient dialogue and persevering commitment of people of good will on both sides," he said.

"Terrorism must be condemned in all its forms, for it is not only a betrayal of our common humanity, but is absolutely incapable of laying the necessary political, moral and spiritual foundations for a people's freedom and authentic self-determination," the Pope added.

He appealed to Israelis and Palestinians "to respect fully the resolutions of the United Nations and the commitments made in the acceptance of the peace process, with engagement in a common quest for reconciliation, justice and the building of a secure and harmonious coexistence in the Holy Land."

The Holy Father voiced the hope that the Palestinian Constitution now being drafted "will give expression to the highest aspirations and the most cherished values of all the Palestinian people, with due recognition of all religious communities and adequate legal protection of their freedom of worship and expression."

The Pope asked the Palestinian Christians to contribute to the construction of their own country and to "a better understanding of the situation of Christians in the Palestinian territories and the significant role which they can play in promoting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people."

The Holy See and the PLO have stable diplomatic relations, although Afif Safieh, the Palestinian representative, does not have the title of ambassador.