Pope Benedict has called for prayers for an end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip and stated that war and hatred are not a solution to problems.

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A Palestinian woman walks past a house destroyed after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA)

After the Angelus on the first Sunday of 2009, the Pope invited all to pray for an end to the war in Gaza, recalling that hatred and war do not resolve problems.

“Today, in all the churches of the Holy Land, the patriarchs and leaders of the Christian churches of Jerusalem invite the faithful to pray for an end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip and implore justice and peace for their land. I join with them and ask you to do the same, remembering, as they are saying, ‘the victims, the wounded, those with broken hearts, who are living in anguish and fear, that God bless them with consolation, patience, and the peace that proceeds from Him”.

The Holy Father affirmed that “the dramatic news that we are receiving from the Gaza Strip shows that the refusal to dialogue leads to situations that weigh unspeakably on the populations who are again victim to hatred and war”.

War and hatred are not a solution to problems. Most recent history again confirms this. Let us pray, then, that ‘the Baby in the manger … inspire the authorities and those responsible on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, to act immediately to put an end to this tragic situation”.

VATICAN CITY, 4 JAN 2009 (VIS)