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Pope distressed by "innocent victims" at Russian school

As the hostage drama in southern Russia was beginning to unfold on Wednesday, Pope John Paul II condemned the recourse to violence that he sid is "unworthy of any cause".

The Holy Father said he is pained at the recent bombings in Russia and Israel, which left many "defenseless and innocent" victims. The seizure of the children and teachers at the school in the southern Russian republic of North Ossetia is part of a wave of terrorist actions in Iraq.

Officials said the attack on the school in the southern Russian republic of North Ossetia also bore the hallmarks of Chechen rebel actions. More than 15 attackers, some strapped with explosives, were believed to have mined the school and threatened to kill those inside. The Itar-Tass news agency said the militants were demanding the release of imprisoned Chechen fighters.

In Israel, two suicide bus bombings in Beersheba on Tuesday left 18 people dead. The Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The pope said that in Iraq there has been no end to the "chain of blind violence that prevents the return to civil harmony." He condemned the "barbarous execution" of 12 Nepalese workers in Iraq and expressed worry for the fate of two French journalists seized by militants there.

"I make a pressing appeal that everywhere there be an end to the recourse to violence, which is always unworthy of any good cause, and that the two French journalists be treated with humanity and returned unharmed to their loved ones as soon as possible," he said.

Pope condemns wave of terrorism, says violence unworthy of any cause (Catholic News Service 2/9/04)

Idolatry of Power and Wealth Robs Man of Dignity, Says Pope (Zenit 1/9/04)
Pope tells New England bishops U.S. church can heal from abuse wounds (Catholic News Service 2/9/04)
Pope Discusses Sex Abuse Scandal with U.S. Bishops (Reuters/myway 2/9/04)
Pope supports U.S. bishops' efforts to address sex abuse scandal (Associated Press/ 2/9/04)
Pope Discusses Sex Abuse Scandal with U.S. Bishops (Reuters 2/9/04)
Audience: Idolatry, a temptation for all of humanity (Vatican Information Service 1/9/04)
Pope calls for an end to violence all over the world (Vatican Information Service 1/9/04)
John Paul II Denounces Terrorist Attacks in Nepal, Israel, Russia and Iraq (Zenit 1/9/04)
US Church has key evangelizing role, Pope says (Catholic World News 2/9/04)
Pope encourages US Catholics to be witnesses to hope despite sex scandal (Catholic News Agency 2/9/04)
Document: Pope John Paul words to the Bishops of Boston and Hartford - Ad Limina visit (Catholic News Agency 2/9/04)

3 Sep 2004