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Papal Peace Symbols Decide Not to Fly

January 20, 1986|Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II called for prayers for Lebanon on Sunday and then tried to release two white doves as symbols of peace, but the birds refused to fly away.

During his weekly blessing, John Paul said he had special thoughts "for our brothers and sisters in Lebanon, where the situation has become once again worrying."

Clashes in Lebanon between rival Christian militias and between government forces and Druze fighters have killed more than 400 people and wounded more than 800 since Jan. 13.

The plans called for the pontiff to free two white doves while thousands of young people in the square released balloons containing messages of peace.

But when the pontiff tossed the first white dove from his window on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace, it immediately flew back inside.

John Paul, wearing a red cape over his white robes, tossed the second dove out, but it also returned. Both birds perched on his windowsill, refusing to budge.

"As you can see, the doves don't want to leave," John Paul told the laughing crowd below. "On the contrary, they want to bring peace to the Pope."

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