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Religion

John Paul pleads for rejection of terrorism

By wire services
Published April 12, 2004

ROME - Under heightened security that included airport-style metal detectors at the gates of the Vatican, Pope John Paul II used his Easter message on Sunday to plead for the world to unite to overcome terrorism and "the logic of death."

The pope, speaking to tens of thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, prayed for leaders who are trying to resolve conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, including the Iraq war and Israeli-Palestinian violence. He called for what he described as the children of Abraham - Christians, Jews and Muslims - to rediscover their shared bonds.

The world, he said, needs to "find the strength to face the inhuman, and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism, which rejects life and brings anguish and uncertainty to the daily lives of so many hard-working and peaceful people."

The 83-year-old pope delivered the message in his traditional Urbi et Orbi Easter address, Latin for "To the City and the World." He spoke clearly and strongly despite a grueling schedule of Holy Week ceremonies in recent days.

On Sunday, hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police officers patrolled St. Peter's Square, as well as nearby roofs and terraces. Workers had sealed manhole covers to prevent bombs from being hidden in them, and small aircraft were banned from the surrounding airspace, officials said.

Holy Land

JERUSALEM - Amid tolling bells, flickering candles and many languages of prayer, thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world celebrated Easter here Sunday, journeying despite concerns over the possibility of violence.

All morning, worshipers from around the world streamed steadily into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, located in the walled Old City on the site where many Christians hold that Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Not far outside the Old City's stone walls, more than 1,500 Protestants held separate services at a lush enclave, known as the Garden Tomb, that they believe is the more likely Crucifixion site. Worshipers also gathered by the hundreds in churches in Bethlehem and Beit Jala, West Bank cities with sizable Christian populations.

Varying church calendars usually mean Easter is celebrated on different days for different Christian churches, but the holiday fell on the same day this year.

The result was larger-than-normal crowds in the Old City, where tourism has plummeted since the outbreak of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict 31/2 years ago.

[Last modified April 12, 2004, 01:05:27]


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