Lebanese, Palestinians concerned over Pope

April 2, 2005 at 12:51 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 2 (UPI) -- Lebanese and Palestinian officials Saturday expressed concern over Pope John Paul II's deteriorating health conditions.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said he was "praying for God to help him with strength to face this critical health condition."

The statement added that Lahoud was in constant touch with his embassy in the Vatican and the Papal Embassy in Beirut, hoping for "positive matters to happen so that the hearts of the believers in the world will be assured."

Lahoud is the only Christian leader in the Arab world. He is of the Maronite sect, which follows the Catholic Church, and whose sect is given the presidency of the Lebanese republic, while the Shiites take the parliament speakership and the Sunnis assume the prime ministry.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia said the pope "stood with justice and humanity in supporting our people to achieve their legitimate rights and for peace on the land of peace."

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