Once again, Pope John Paul II has called for the holy places in Jerusalem to be given special status. During a visit last Thursday by Fouad Aoun, the new Lebanese ambassador, the Pope expressed his anxieties over the recent violence in Israel. He said: "The Holy Land, where God has manifested himself and spoken to men, must become the place par excellence where peace and justice flower. Jerusalem must be a symbol of strong unity, peace and reconciliation for the whole of humanity." The Pope asked the whole Lebanese community to continue their efforts to develop good relations between Catholics and Muslims and "to construct a new Lebanon capable of overcoming misunderstandings and of seeking prosperity for all its inhabitants". Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, said that the Vatican was asking for the shrines of the three religions be able to conserve their unique and sacred character, through international guarantees "so that in future no one side can claim exclusive control over these sacred places."
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