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Pope appeals for peace in Georgia

 Pope Benedict has appealed "in the name of a common Christian heritage" for an immediate end to fighting in Georgia and South Ossetia. Speaking yesterday in the northern Italian city of Bressanone, where he has been on vacation, the Holy Father expressed his "deep anguish" at reports of heavy civilian casualties and large numbers of refugees fleeing the war zone, He said: "It is my fervent wish that military actions cease immediately. He urged both sides to "refrain, also in the name of a common Christian heritage, from further confrontations and violent retaliations that could degenerate into a wider conflict." "I also invite the international community and the countries most influential in the current situation to make every effort to sustain and promote initiatives aimed at reaching a peaceful and lasting solution, one which favours open and respectful coexistence," he said. Pope Benedict said he was praying along with Orthodox Christians, who form the majority of the populations in Georgia and Russia, so that peace will come to the region.