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Pope calls for Middle East cease-fire

By Steve Almasy, CNN
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Pope Francis called for renewed efforts towards peace in the Middle East before Sunday's Angelus prayer.
Pope Francis called for renewed efforts towards peace in the Middle East before Sunday's Angelus prayer.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Pope gives a sermon, traditional prayer every Sunday at noon
  • He met with presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in June
  • Violence in the region has escalated since then
  • Pope says prayer is a powerful weapon against evil

(CNN) -- Pope Francis called for a cease-fire in the Middle East before Sunday's Angelus prayer and said his meeting in June with the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority was not a waste of time.

"I exhort to all the interested parties and to all of those who have political responsibility at the local and international level to not give up the prayer, nor any effort to cease any hostility and reach the desired peace for the good of all," the Pope said, according to a CNN translation. He spoke in Italian, from the window of his apartment above St. Peter's Square.

In June, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres committed themselves to the quest for peace during a visit to the Vatican. It was the first time the Pope had hosted a prayer gathering of two leaders engaged in conflict.

"Someone could think that such a meeting took place in vain. Instead no, because prayer helps us in not letting evil win nor resigning ourselves to violence and hatred take over dialogue and reconciliation," the pontiff said Sunday.

The Angelus is a traditional prayer given Sundays at noon following a short sermon from the Pope.

Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants escalated this month after the killing of three Israeli teenagers and a Palestinian teen. Neither Hamas nor Israel appears to be backing down.

Since Monday, scores of people in Gaza have been killed, the Gaza Health Ministry has said. Though some Israelis have been wounded, none has been killed by the rockets fired by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza.

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CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.

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