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Worried Pope calls on humanity to overcome hatred

Pope John Paul, indicating he believed the United States should not expand its war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan, urged the faithful on Sunday to push for peace and not pursue vendettas.

"In the current complex international situation, humanity is being called on to mobilize its greatest energies so that love triumphs over hate, peace over war, truth over lies, forgiveness over vendettas," the Pope said in a regular weekly address.

His comment came the day after he had urged the world in apocalyptic terms to pull back from the brink of further conflict, apparently signaling his anxiety that once the Afghan war was over the United States would strike elsewhere.

"Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon. Humanity, which greeted the dawning of the third millennium with hope, now feels weighed down by the threat of new shocking conflicts. World peace is at risk," the Pope said in a speech on Saturday.

Significantly, no one in the top Vatican hierarchy has so far used the word "war" to describe the US strikes on Afghanistan, underscoring instead the argument for self- defense and importance of pre-empting further attacks. However, commentators say the Pope is uncomfortable with this line and is worried the United States, enraged by the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington, might soon decide to lash out at other Muslim countries such as Iraq.

He is also clearly concerned about the seemingly endless spiral of violence in the Middle East.