Pope prays for civilians in Iraq
Pope John Paul, one of the main voices opposed to the US-led war in Iraq, prayed on Sunday for the "defenceless" civilians caught in the crossfire in Iraq and urged a quick end to the fighting.
"May God bring an end to the conflict quickly to make room for a new era of pardon, love and peace," the Holy Father told thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square.
"My thoughts go to Iraq and all those caught up in the war that rages there," he said. I am thinking in a special way of the defenceless civilian population that in various cities has been subjected to harsh trials."
"The building of peace is a permanent effort," he said. "The reality of these days demonstrates that in a dramatic way."
He mentioned that Friday will be the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the encyclical "Pacem in Terris," in which Pope John XXIII produced a blueprint for for the promotion of peace.
"The encyclical reveals itself, also today, of extraordinary importance," John Paul II said. "To construct peace is a permanent commitment. The reality of these days demonstrates this in a dramatic way."
Pope and French Official Stress Need for Iraqi Civilians' Relief (Zenit)
Iraq: Pope to De Villepin, shorten population's suffering (AGI)
Iraq: Limit the suffering of the civilian population (Vatican Information Service)
Building peace is a permanent commitment (Vatican Information Service)
8 Apr 2003