Benedict XVI: War Does Not Resolve Conflict
Urges Peaceful Solutions to Mideast Crisis

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2006 ( Violence only leads to more violence, Benedict XVI warned as he expressed his hopes for peace and stability in the Middle East.

The Holy Father made these comments last Thursday in an address to Makram Obeid, the new ambassador of Syria to the Holy See, when the latter presented his letters of credence.

"You have spoken of your government's concern over the annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel in 1967. With a heavy heart, I note that a wide range of territorial and other disputes have led to armed conflicts in recent times that threaten the peace and stability of the entire Middle East," said the Pope.

"Repeatedly I have pleaded for a cessation of violence in Lebanon, in the Holy Land and in Iraq," the Pontiff said.

Benedict XVI said: "The world looks on with great sadness at the cycle of death and destruction, as innocent people continue to suffer and targeted individuals are kidnapped and assassinated."

The Pope said that the Church "emphatically rejects war as a means of resolving international disputes, and has often pointed out that it only leads to new and still more complicated conflicts."

"Sadly, from the current situation in the Middle East, it is only too evident that this is the case," the Holy Father said.

Non-violent mediation

The Pontiff added that the solution to the conflict lies within the framework of international law and "the implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions."

"In this regard, I have frequently urged that the various nations of the Middle East should be supported in their aspirations to live in peace within secure internationally recognized borders," Benedict XVI said.

In his address to the Syrian ambassador, the Pope also referred, in particular, to "the scourge of terrorism" which "increases the fear and insecurity experienced by so many in the region today."

The Holy Father added that he was glad to learn, from the Syrian ambassador's address, "about the Syrian government's commitment to counter this growing threat to peace and stability."

"The world looks especially to countries with significant influence in the Middle East in the hopeful expectation of signs of progress toward the resolution of these long-standing conflicts," said the Pontiff to the Syrian diplomat.

Makram Obeid, 62, has been minister of transport for the past six years, and is also ambassador to Spain, where he resides.


ZENIT is an International News Agency.