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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?

Prediction 9: The Catholic Church getting directly involved in the “Road to Peace” process.

Pope Calls for End to Holy Land Violence
By Gerry O'Connell in Rome

Appalled by the ongoing killing of the innocent in the Holy Land – mostly Palestinians, but also many Israelis, Pope Benedict XVI has called for a stop to the killing and violence by both side, after many innocent victims, most Palestinians, including children – were killed in recent days.

Pope Benedict told Israel that "unilateral" solutions will not work and will not bring peace, and he implored the two sides to return to serious negotiations. The 79 year old pontiff called on the international community to send “the obligatory” humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. Two weeks ago, on Wednesday, June 14, the Vatican issued a statement expressing sadness in the wake of Israeli bombings in Gaza that ended in the deaths of many civilians, including children.

"The Holy See is following with great apprehension and sorrow the increasing episodes of blind violence, which are causing the shedding of blood in these days in the Holy Land," the Vatican statement said.

"The Holy Father is close -particularly in prayer, to the innocent victims, to their families and to the populations of these lands, (who are) hostages to those who delude themselves that the ever more dramatic problems of the region can be resolved by force or in a unilateral fashion."

The remarks about "those who delude themselves" that the problems in the Holy Land can be resolved "by force”"or "in a unilateral way" is the first time that Pope Benedict and the Vatican have actually stated frankly their disagreement with the strategy being adopted by the new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The Holy See totally disagrees with this "unilateral" Israeli approach to resolving the almost 60 year-old conflict between the two sides; it is convinced that that route will never bring peace. For this reason, the Vatican statement called on the international community to provide the badly needed "humanitarian assistance" to the Palestinians, as a first step, and then to have both sides return "with courage" to the negotiating table.

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