Pope Urges Prayers for End to Gaza Conflict

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict is urging Christians to pray
"that baby Jesus in the manger might inspire" Israelis and
Palestinians to immediately end the bloody conflict in the Gaza

Benedict's appeal for peace Sunday is the latest of several he has made since Christmas. The West Bank city of Bethlehem will observe Orthodox Christmas later this week.

The pope told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on Sunday that the conflict in Gaza "shows how the refusal of dialogue leads to situations that place unspeakable burden on people who are, once again, victims of hatred and war."

The Vatican has said Pope Benedict hopes to visit the Holy Land in the spring.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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