Pope Benedict urges fresh efforts towards Middle East peace
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict made a new appeal on Monday for peace in the Middle East and freedom of worship for Christians, following repeated bouts of violence and intimidation that have caused deep concern to the Vatican.
"I want particularly to encourage the life and presence of Christians in the Middle East, where they must be able to live out their faith freely, and to launch once again a pressing appeal for peace in the region," Benedict said in comments addressed to Lebanese pilgrims at the Vatican.
The appeal follows a call last week for an end to the conflict in Gaza, where a ceasefire was agreed on Wednesday.
The pope addressed the Lebanese pilgrims after Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, 72, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon, was named as a new cardinal at a ceremony called a consistory.
"The church encourages all efforts for peace in the world and in the Middle East, a peace that will only be effective if it is based on authentic respect for other people," said Benedict, who visited Lebanon in September.
(Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by Sophie Hares)
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