A Day of Prayer and Penance For the Middle East
Faced with worsening situation in the Middle East, The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has called for a worldwide day of prayer and penance for peace in the Middle East, to be observed on Sunday, July 23, 2006.
In a statement released on July 20, through the Vatican press office, the Holy Father called upon "the pastors and faithful of all the particular churches, and believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace."
The Pope's statement listed specific petitions to be raised during the day of prayer and penance:
1) For an immediate cease-fire; 2)For the opening of humanitarian corridors allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid; 3) and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region."
Pope Benedict also encouraged relief agencies to provide help to those civilians caught up in the fighting. The papal statement included a summation of the Holy See's viewpoint on the struggle: “In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.”