Pope calls for Christians, Muslims to unite against violence

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday called for Christians and Muslims to unite against violence, following a trip to Lebanon last week in which he condemned fundamentalism in any religion.

"I think the time has come... for us together to issue a determined rejection of violence and wars," the pope said at an audience in the Vatican.

The pope also thanked the Muslim leaders he met in Lebanon for their hospitality, adding: "I proposed a message of dialogue and collaboration."

"I was able to speak from the heart, to stand before the suffering and the dramatic events in the Middle East and to express my prayerful encouragement for the legitimate aspirations for peace there," he said.

The pontiff also asked the Christian minorities in the Middle East to find strength "amid trying circumstances to celebrate the victory of love over hate, of forgiveness over revenge and of unity over division."

The 85-year-old German pope was speaking in front of 7,000 faithful in the Vatican at his weekly audience following the three-day visit.

During his trip to Lebanon, the pope also called for an end to the supply of arms to both sides in the civil war raging in Syria.

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