At the end of the Mass today, during which he ordained 34 priests, the Holy Father met with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter´s Square. Referring to the Middle East, he raised his voice and said: "We are faced with an absurd spiral of violence."
He began by alluding to his recent pilgrimage in St. Paul´s footsteps, which took him to Greece, Syria and Malta. The joy of his trip, he said, contrasted with the sad news of deaths reported over those days from the Holy Land.
While the Pope prayed for peace in the ghost city of Quneitra, in the Golan Heights, he expressed sorrow over a 4-month-old girl who died when Israeli soldiers and tanks entered a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Later, when in Malta, the Holy Father condemned the savage stoning to death of two 14-year-old Israelis.
"To sow death every day does no more than exasperate spirits and delay the blessed day when all will be able to look at one another in the face and walk together as brothers!" the Pope exclaimed.
"All, and in particular leaders of the international community, have the duty to help the parties in conflict to break this immoral chain of provocations and reprisals," the Holy Father said. "It must be remembered ... that the language and culture of peace must prevail over incitement to hatred and exclusion."
John Paul II entrusted to the Virgin of Fatima the peace of the Middle East, "that the hearts and intentions of all will be purified, so that the massacres will cease and the energies of one and all will be employed for the effective and lasting construction of peace."