Pope Hears Arafat's Promise of Peace

VATICAN, Oct 30, 01 (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II met briefly with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at the Vatican this morning.

The brief conversation between the Pope and the Palestinian leader centered on the "worrisome situation in the Palestinian territories," the Vatican later announced. The statement issued by the Vatican press office also mentioned "the recent tragic events concerning the Christian holy sites" in Palestinian towns such as Bethlehem.

Arafat told the Holy Father that the Palestinian Authority condemns all forms of terrorism, and is searching for a just and durable peace. He also said that his government would protect the rights of Christian Palestinians.

Pope John Paul renewed his appeal for an end to "the endless spiral of violence," and a renewal of negotiations. He also repeated the position often stated by the Holy See: that there should be international guarantees to ensure the security of the region and free access to the holy places for all religious believers.

Arafat arrived at the Vatican at 10 am, in a convoy of vehicles with dark tinted windows, with an Italian military helicopter above to ensure the safety of the procession. After leaving the Vatican, the Palestinian leader proceeded to a luncheon date with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. His schedule called for a visit to Oslo, Norway, later in the day, and a return to Jerusalem- - where Arafat is scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday.

Catholic World News Service - Daily News Briefs
30. oktober 2001