08/10/2008, 00.00
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Pope: may the international community help end hostilities in Georgia and Ossetia

Benedict XVI's appeal to stop the war in the Caucusus recalled the "shared Christian heritage" of the peoples in conflict, and the prayer for peace of the "Orthodox brethren". A warning to "consumerist society", and in particular to the young people, not to spend their vacations always seeking to fill their spiritual emptiness with recourse to "extreme" experiences.

Bressanone (AsiaNews) - The pope hopes that the violence in Georgia and south Ossetia may come to an end, and calls upon "the international community and the most influential countries in the current situation to make every effort to support and promote initiatives aimed at reaching a peaceful and lasting solution, for the sake of open and respectful coexistence". The echo of the war underway in the Caucusus has reached all the way to the mountains of northern Italy, where Benedict XVI's vacation comes to an end today.

In the words he addressed after the Angelus to the approximately 8,000 people gathered in the square in front of the cathedral of Bressanone, the pope also evoked "the shared Christian heritage" of the combatants, and union with "the Orthodox brethren" in prayer for peace. "There is cause for great concern", he said, "in the increasingly dramatic news of the tragic events taking place in Georgia. These, beginning from the region of south Ossetia, have already caused many innocent victims, and forced a great number of civilians to leave their homes. It is my earnest hope", he added, "that the military action may cease immediately, and that, partly in the name of a shared Christian heritage, further violent conflict and retaliation may be avoided, which could degenerate into a much more widespread conflict. May the path of negotiation and respectful, constructive dialogue be taken instead, avoiding further devastating suffering for those beloved peoples. I also call upon the international community and the most influential countries in the current situation", he continued, "to make every effort to support and promote initiatives aimed at reaching a peaceful and lasting solution, for the sake of open and respectful coexistence. Together with our Orthodox brethren", he concluded, "let us pray intensely for these intentions, which we entrust confidently to the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and of all Christians".

Before the recitation of the Marian prayer, recalling the World Youth Day last month in Sydney, Australia, he urged young people to discover the "simple joy" of being together, without resorting to "vulgar and violent means, to alcohol and drugs", which often lead to "degrading experiences that, not infrequently, end in terrible tragedy. This", he emphasized, "is a typical result of the current so-called 'society of well-being', which, in order to fill an interior emptiness and the boredom that accompanies it, leads to experiments with new, more exciting, more 'extreme' experiences. In this way, even vacation risks deteriorating into a pointless search for illusory pleasures. But this gives no rest to the spirit, the heart feels no joy and finds no peace, and instead ends up more weary and sad than before. I have addressed myself to the young people because they are the ones most thirsty for life and new experiences, and therefore also those most at risk. But the reflection is valid for all: the human person is truly refreshed only in relationship with God, and God is encountered by learning to listen to his voice in interior quiet and in silence (cf. 1 Kings 19:12)".

"Let us pray", he concluded, "that in a society that is always in a hurry, vacation may be a time of true relaxation, during which we may set aside moments for recollection and prayer, which are indispensable for profoundly rediscovering ourselves and others once again".

This brought to an end the vacation of Benedict XVI, who appeared today smiling, relaxed, and rested. Yesterday, he was made an honorary citizen of this town where he came for summer vacation for ten years as a cardinal. After repeatedly saying goodbye and thanking those present, the pope also recalled "the journalists and workers in the mass media who have followed me during this vacation. I thank you, dear friends", he told them, "for your work, and I assure you of my prayers for your personal and professional intentions".

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