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 CNS Story:

MIDEAST-SYRIA Dec-6-2012 (280 words) xxxi

Palestinian question key to Mideast peace, say Catholic leaders

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At the end of a three-day meeting in Lebanon, the Catholic patriarchs and bishops of the Middle East said peace in the region will be impossible without a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The 77 Catholic leaders said the greatest contribution to peace in the region would be to finally find a "just and peaceful solution to the Palestinian question," which they said is at the root of all the tensions in the region.

The bishops and patriarchs met Dec. 3-5 in Harissa, Lebanon. According to Fides, the Vatican's missionary news agency, at the end of the meeting, they issued a pastoral statement on implementing Pope Benedict XVI's September document on the church in the Middle East as well as their appeal for peace in Syria and throughout the region.

Fides said the appeal makes three main points, beginning with the urgency of finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a response to the desire of the Palestinian people to have an independent country.

The second point, Fides reported, was to ask everyone in the region to work to end local conflicts and violence by putting into place projects for reconciliation and peace that "guarantee freedom for all and the safeguarding of human dignity."

"The appeal refers explicitly to the situation of martyred Syria," Fides said.

The third point focused on the situation of Christians in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

The bishops and patriarchs say Christian leaders must intensify their relationships and their cooperation on projects designed to help Christians stay in the region, Fides said. They also asked their Muslim neighbors to help safeguard the full rights of the region's Christians, recognizing them as fellow citizens.


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