Urgent need for peace in Middle East: Pope

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 24, 2010 12:20 hrs

Rome, Oct 24 (DPA) Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI Sunday called for the prompt resolution of the Middle East conflict and urged Muslim countries to guarantee total religious freedom.

Peace is needed urgently in the volatile region, and an essential prerequisite for dignified life, the pontiff said at a mass at St Peter's Basilica to mark formal closing of the Vatican's two-week synod on future of the Middle East's dwindling Christian communities.

'The conflict in the Middle East has gone on for too long -- the wars, the violence, the terrorism,' Benedict said.

Freedom of religion was one of the fundamental human rights every state in the region should respect, he noted. Several Muslim countries tightly curtail the practice of Christianity.

The meeting of bishops, or synod, regarded the need for Christians and Muslims enter into dialogue as important, Benedict said.

The bishops produced a 44-point set of proposals on how to strengthen the Christian presence in the region. The document is to be submitted to the pontiff for his final approval.

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