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Pope Condemns Violence in Middle East

Associated Press
Monday, November 17, 2003; Page A17

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 16 -- In his traditional Sunday appearance in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II condemned violence in Iraq, Turkey and the Holy Land, and criticized Israel for building a wall to shut out Palestinians.

John Paul noted that many saw the security barrier as a new obstacle to Middle East peace. "In reality, the Holy Land doesn't need walls, but bridges," he told the crowd from his studio window.

The pope called for leaders on both sides of the conflict to "have the courage to restart dialogue and negotiations, thus freeing the path toward a Middle East reconciled in justice and peace."

"Once again, in these recent days, terrorism has committed its evil work, particularly in Iraq and Turkey," John Paul said.

He said he was praying for the families of the victims and for those caring for the injured. Respect for life must prevail over violence and hatred, he said.

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