Pope repeats call for guarantees on status of Jerusalem holy sites
    Pope John Paul II has reiterated his call for an 'internationally guaranteed status' for the holy places in Jerusalem.
    The Pope renewed his appeal when he received Fouad Aoun, the new ambassador from Lebanon to the Vatican.
    Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, explained: "What we ask for is that in the future the shrines of the three religions [Islam, Judaism and Christianity] be able to conserve their unique and sacred character, thanks to international guarantees, so that in future no one of the sides can claim exclusive control for itself over these sacred places of the city."
    On 18 September, when the Holy Father received Yosef Neville Lamdan, Israel's new ambassador to the Vatican, he explained that the international guarantee for Jerusalem should guarantee not only "the conservation of the cultural and religious heritage of the city," but contribute to a just and stable peace.
    "The definitive stability of peace and security in the region seems to recede," the Pope said. "One cannot but see that recourse to violence always leads to greater damages for all, increased anger, and greater difficulty in the possibility of reconciliation.
    "The Holy Land, where God has manifested himself and spoken to men, must become the place par excellence where peace and justice flower. Jerusalem must be a symbol of strong unity, peace and reconciliation for the whole of humanity."