WE BELIEVE in only one God.

This was the appeal of Pope John Paul II for Israelis and Palestinians to end the violence in the Holy Land.

God “can give the energies that are necessary to be freed from hatred and the thirst for vengeance, and to undertake the way of negotiation for peace,” the Holy Father said.

The Pope asked Catholics worldwide to unite in a day of prayer for peace last April 7, Divine Mercy Sunday.

But while the Pope delivered his homily, the conflict in the Holy Land between Israelites and Palestinians escalated.

Last April 6, about 200 armed Palestinians retreated into the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem after Israeli soldiers marched into the Palestinian city. About 40 Franciscan friars and nuns, as well as Greek-Orthodox and Orthodox Armenian monks, risk being caught in the crossfire.

Recently, the Vatican released a statement urging Church leaders both in Israel and Jerusalem to take diplomatic initiatives to resolve the conflict.

The statement emphasized the unequivocal condemnation of terrorism; disapproval of the conditions of injustice and humiliation imposed on the Palestinian people; respect for the United Nations resolutions by all sides; proportionality in the use of legitimate means of defense; and the duty for the parties in conflict to protect the sacred places.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told the press that the Church is doing its best to help end the violence.

“The Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Israel continues with his much appreciated work of assistance to all those who are suffering,” he said. Anna Rachelle S. Ariola, with reports from Vatican news and www.ewtn.net

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