Pope appeals from Assisi for peace in Middle East

 Pope Benedict made a pilgrimage to Assisi yesterday, to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St Francis, who, as Benedict said, turned away from a materialistic life as the "king of partying" to one of simplicity and spirituality. The Holy Father said he considered it his duty in the birthplace of St Francis, to make "a pressing and heartfelt appeal so that all the armed conflicts that bloody the earth may cease, so that weapons may go silent and so that, everywhere, hate gives way to love, offence to forgiveness and discord to union." After celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St Francis, the Pope said: "We feel spiritually close to all those who weep, who suffer and who die because of war and its tragic consequences in whatever part of the world. "Our thoughts go in a special way to the Holy Land, beloved by St Francis, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to the entire Middle East." "The populations of those places have known, for too long, the horrors of fighting, of terrorism, of blind violence, the illusion that force can resolve conflicts." "Only responsible and sincere dialogue, backed by the generous support of the international community, can put an end to so much sorrow and restore life and dignity," Pope Benedict sad. Source: VIS/CN