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Pope Dwells on Mideast in Easter Speech

April 01, 2002|From Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Struggling with his own physical suffering, Pope John Paul II used his Easter message to issue a forceful plea for an end to a bloody spiral of violence that has created "horror and despair" in the Holy Land.

After Israel launched a sweeping retaliation for a string of Palestinian suicide bombings, John Paul dedicated much of the address to the conflict.

Assisted by two cardinals, the frail 81-year-old pope celebrated Mass on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

At the end of the 1 1/2-hour Mass, the pope managed to raise his voice in a denunciation of Middle East bloodshed.

Remarking glumly that it appeared that "war has been declared on peace," John Paul called on political and religious leaders to do what they can to "help everyone to rediscover mutual respect and return to frank negotiation."

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