PAPAL APPROVAL

Pope Backs Palestinian State

Since beginning his tour of the Middle East, Pope Benedict has struggled to navigate the controversial issues tied to the Holy Land. His endorsement of a Palestinian state while standing on its soil will certainly not diminish the din of criticism. Standing beside the Palestinian president, the Pope said, "The Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders." He also sent a message of solidarity to those living in the Gaza strip, acknowledging "the hardship and the suffering" of life in the territory. The Pope, who has described himself as "a messenger of peace," also offered moral support to the dwindling Christian minority in Palestine.