CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) Pope John Paul II decried hatred and violence in the Middle East and Africa, and prayed for pardon and reconciliation among peoples.
Greeting pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town near Rome, John Paul prayed to the Virgin Mary so that she would ''look upon those who have more need of pardon and reconciliation, bring harmony in families and peace among peoples.''
The pontiff expressed hope that Mary would ''dry the tears that hatred and violence provoke in many regions of the Earth, especially in the Middle East and on the African continent.''
John Paul did not cite a particular incident Sunday, but the day's news was filled with bloodshed.
In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Muslims mourned a Shiite leader who was assassinated in a car bombing before that killed at least 125 people.
Israel has killed several militants in missile strikes in Gaza since a suicide bomber killed 21 people in Jerusalem on Aug. 19.
In Liberia, one of several violent conflicts in Africa, widespread hunger and scattered clashes persisted despite an Aug. 18 peace accord among government and rebel forces.
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