Pope, at Lourdes, remembers victims of terrorism

Sat Sep 13, 2008 4:55pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

LOURDES, France (Reuters) - Pope Benedict prayed on Saturday at the site where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a French peasant girl 150 years ago, and asked the world not to forget the victims of terrorism and hatred.

The pope arrived in the southwestern town of Lourdes on the second day of his visit to France after earlier celebrating an outdoor mass for more than 250,000 people in Paris, telling them the modern world had made idols of money and power.

At Lourdes, Benedict prayed in the grotto where Saint Bernadette Soubirous said she had seen the Madonna 18 times in 1858, and drank water from a spring that believers say has healing powers.

In the past 150 years, the Church has recognized as "miracles" 67 medically inexplicable healings of sick pilgrims who visited Lourdes.

Later, at the end of a candlelight procession around the grounds of the sanctuary, Benedict told tens of thousands who had gathered to hear him not to forget those suffering in the world.

"We think of innocent victims who suffer from violence, war, terrorism and famine; those who bear the consequences of injustices, scourges and disasters, hatred and oppression; of attacks on their human dignity and fundamental rights, on their freedom to act and think," he said.

The pope was speaking spoke two days after the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks against the United States.

Benedict was to spend three days in Lourdes, the last foreign destination visited by Pope John Paul II before his death in 2005.   Continued...

<p>Pope Benedict XVI waves at an open-air mass on the Place des Invalides in Paris, September 13, 2008. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano</p>