AMMAN, Jordan - As peace talks get underway in Geneva trying to end the 5-year-old war in Syria, the U.N. children's agency warned that more than 80 per cent of Syria's children have been harmed by the destructive conflict.

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AMMAN, Jordan - With crises in Syria and Iraq deepening, Catholic bishops on a solidarity visit with the "forgotten" Christians of the Middle East are urging stepped-up peace efforts to resolve conflicts tearing apart the troubled region.

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Conflict and cruelty must be fought with tenderness, forgiveness and bearing Christ's cross, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis said he will dedicate his one-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina to encouraging a minority Catholic community in the faith, fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and calling for peace and harmony after the devastations of war.

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PARIS - The exodus of Christians from the Middle East — due to wars, conflicts, socio-economic crises and persecution — will weaken moderate Islam "which, thanks to the Islamic-Christian conviviality, is so far the vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East," said Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai.

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VATICAN CITY - Highlighting some of the most urgent conflicts facing the world, Pope Francis said such strife and injustices were rooted in a culture of rejection that refuses to recognize God, to protect nature and to respect other human beings.

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The people of South Sudan need to know they are not forgotten. 

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Updated 12/18/12

VATICAN CITY - Just weeks after the Vatican praised Palestine’s boosted status as a non-member observer state

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI condemned escalating hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, saying hatred and violence are never an appropriate solution to problems.

He also called for greater efforts to promote a truce and peace negotiations.

"I am following with great concern the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," the Pope said at the end of his general audience Nov. 21.

"Hatred and violence are not the solution to problems," he said to applause from those gathered in the Paul VI hall.

"I encourage the initiatives and efforts of those who are seeking to establish a ceasefire and to promote negotiations."

He also called on leaders on both sides of the conflict to make "courageous decisions in favour of peace and put an end to a conflict that has negative repercussions throughout the entire Middle East region, which is already troubled by too many conflicts and is in need of peace and reconciliation."

The Pope expressed his closeness to victims and all those suffering because of the violence.

His appeal came as both sides in the conflict launched fresh attacks. Just hours before the Pope spoke, a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding at least 10 people. That attack followed a week-long Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip aimed at stopping rocket strikes by Palestinian militants.

More than 130 Palestinians and at least five Israelis have been killed since Israel launched its offensive.

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