U.S. Effort in Middle East Supported by Vatican Radio

Though "Late," It Might Contribute to Peace, Says Director

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 9, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican Radio official welcomed a new U.S. effort to end Mideast violence, though he fears the plan may be coming too late.



Father Pasquale Borgomeo, director general of the station, said today that the United States´ lack of intervention could be considered a serious fault of omission, a failure to help.

The destruction, bloodshed and vengeance unleashed in the Holy Land have reached a level that John Paul II described Monday as "intolerable," the Vatican Radio director said.

"It is very obvious that to abandon this massacre to its fate implies what on several occasions we have called an ´omission of help´: It is the cry for help that John Paul II voiced when he wrote his letter [last week] to the president of the United States," Father Borgomeo during the station´s international news program.

He said he believes the U.S. response has come too late. "But better late than never," he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, meanwhile, said he will meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat this week. He also said the United States is prepared to send observers to the region to help monitor enforcement of a Palestinian-Israeli truce, the Associated Press reported.

At Vatican Radio, Father Borgomeo warned that with every passing hour, the Franciscans in Bethlehem are exposed to a greater risk.

"The Franciscans of Bethlehem, faithful to a secular vocation that makes them Custodians of the Holy Land, have become today -- and it is really paradoxical -- the sole agents placed between the contenders," he said.

"This unarmed presence, which only has the force of an appeal to the world´s conscience, is a small, precious light of humanity in the midst of so much barbarity," he added. "Therefore, when speaking of the United States´ intervention -- finally! -- I would say that in order to be effective it must begin there and immediately, before the irreparable happens."