POPE, VATICAN MONITOR MIDEAST CONFLICT CAREFULLY

VATICAN, Apr 2, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II
and the Vatican diplomatic corps are following the
latest news from the Holy Land with growing concern,
Vatican officials report.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters
that the Holy Father "is continually following the
developments of the tragic situation in the Middle
East."

The Pope's spokesman said that John Paul II-- in
addition to making "personal interventions"-- has given
special instructions to the papal nuncio in Jerusalem,
Archbishop Pietro Sambi. He declined to provide further
details, except to say that the nuncio had been
encouraged to "take timely diplomatic initiatives."

The Vatican spokesman also indicated that the Secretary
of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, has been in
communication with the leaders of many nations and
organizations. He specifically mentioned the United
States, Israel, the Arab League, and the Palestinian
Authority.