Pope John Paul II appealed on Monday for the guns to be silenced in the Holy Land and the West Bank and for peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians to resume.
"Spiritually close to the families of the fallen, I address my impassioned appeal to all those involved, so that the guns may be silenced, provocation avoided and the path of dialogue be resumed," said the pontiff.
The pope told a group of pilgrims, who attended a ceremony on Sunday to canonize 120 Chinese martyrs, that the suffering "during these hours is weighing heavily on my heart."
"During the last few days, the Holy site of Jerusalem has been the scene of violent clashes which have caused many deaths and injuries, even amongst children," he said.
"The Holy land must be a place of peace and fraternity. That is God's wish," added the pontiff.
The pope prayed "that a spirit of mutual understanding and peace" return to the region.
Nearly 40 people have been killed, mostly Palestinians, in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces sparked by a visit Thursday by right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam – VATICAN CITY (AFP)
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