In his traditional Easter "Urbi et Orbi" message, Pope Benedict XVI called for a renewed push for Israeli-Palestinian peace, weeks before he travels to the Holy Land for the first time as pontiff.
AFP - Pope Benedict XVI called Sunday for a new push to resolve the conflict in the Middle East and for an end to "often forgotten" violence in Africa during his traditional Easter blessing.
"Reconciliation ... is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Benedict said.
The pontiff, who will turn 82 on Thursday, said reconciliation in the Middle East was "difficult, but indispensable" in his "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) message from the steps of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
"Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations," the pope added.
In Africa, a "growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease," Benedict lamented.
The message came as Italy mourned the loss of nearly 300 people in last week's earthquake in the central Abruzzo region, and the pope singled out the survivors as he addressed Easter greetings to Catholics around the world in 63 languages.
"Happy Easter to you, men and women of Italy, in particular those who suffer because of the earthquake. May the risen Christ ... inspire in all the necessary wisdom and courage to proceed united in the building of a future open to hope," he said in Italian.
Benedict was speaking three weeks after returning from a trip to Cameroon and Angola, and he plans to travel to Israel and Jordan in the second week of May.
Ticking off many of the world's woes, he added:
"At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope."
Date created : 2009-04-12