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'Heartbroken' pope offers prayers

Security was tight as Pope John Paul said Mass in front of 40,000 people
Security was tight as Pope John Paul said Mass in front of 40,000 people  


FROSINONE, Italy -- Pope John Paul II has offered prayers to America and urged those affected by the terrorist attacks to show restraint and commit themselves to peace.

Amid tightened security at an open-air Mass before 40,000 pilgrims in Frosinone, John Paul said the Virgin Mary would bring comfort and hope to those suffering "in these difficult moments."

He said: "Mary welcomes the dead, consoles the survivors, supports those families who are particularly tried, and helps all to resist the temptation of hate and violence and to commit themselves to the service of justice and peace.

"To all the children of this great nation, I direct my heartbroken and shared thoughts."

Before the pontiff arrived for the Sunday service, a local choir sang the American folk song "Blowin' in the Wind" and waved an American flag.

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An American flag also hung from an apartment block overlooking the piazza where the Mass was celebrated, with a banner reading: "Honor and prayers for the fallen U.S.A."

Security was tighter than normal for the pontiff's visit, his 140th pastoral trip inside Italy since his papacy began in 1978, the Associated Press reported.

An estimated 4,000 law enforcement agents were on hand, and flights over Frosinone were barred for the Mass, local officials said.

Despite security concerns, plans were still going ahead for the pope's forthcoming visit to Armenia and Kazakstan.

While the Italian government has joined the international condemnation of the terror attacks on the U.S. and has vowed an "all-out battle against terrorist organisations," some of those attending the Mass said they feared a war would only make the situation worse.

"We're afraid -- not for our security today but we're afraid of a war," said 68-year-old Rosa Battisti, a housewife from nearby Anitrella.

"We want peace."







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