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Pope offers new plea for end to Irish violence

Pope John Paul II has called on both sides of Northern Ireland's sectarian divide to "show goodwill" as the violence around Holy Cross school sparked international concern.

The Holy Father said that "the present difficulties are a reminder that peace is a fragile reality".

He urged "every level" of society to embrace the "new spirit of enlightenment" of recent years.

The Pope's intervention came as he welcomed the new Irish Ambassador, Bernard Davenport, to the Holy See. He assured the new ambassador that he was praying for "all the people of Ireland".

He said: "A society lacks solid foundations when it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, or justice and peace, but then acts to the contrary by allowing or employing practices which devalue and violate human life."

The Pope spoke as the Government stepped up its efforts to break the impasse before the pupils return today.

Times (London)