Marian feast unites faiths
Muslims and Christians united to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption in Ephesus, Turkey, where Our Lady was believed to have spent the last years of her life.
The solemn Mass celebrated by Archbishop Luigi Conti, Apostolic Nuncio in Turkey, attracted 2,000 people. Among the faithful were pilgrims from the United States, France, and Italy.
The Assumption took on special importance during this Jubilee year, since the Church in Ephesus has been declared a Jubilee Church by the Turkish Episcopal Conference.
The Koran mentions Mary 44 times in delicate poetic terms.
The Ephesus shrine is one of the few where Muslims and Christians pray together daily. Devotees arrive from all over the world, numbering over one million annually.
Equal rights key to peace
THE VATICAN has called on Israel to recognise the "equal rights" of all peoples.
Speaking to Shlomo BenAmi, Israel's acting foreign minister and minister of public security. Archbishop JeanLouis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, said respect for international law on the part of all, and recognition of the "equal rights and duties of all the region's peoples" remained the "two indispensable requirements to put an end to injustice and lack of security".
He also underscored Rome's view on the region's Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites, which, he said, "constitute a sacred patrimony for all believers and have a universal value", and raised concerns over a plan to build a mosque next to Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation.
Because of their significance beyond the Holy Land, the Vatican has called for international guarantees for the holy sites, particularly in Jerusalem.
Mr Ben-Arni, who was touring to garner support for the Israeli position in Middle East peace talks, said he foresaw a second summit in September, which he hoped to be "short and conclusive" but rejected what he called an "internationalisation" of Jerusalem, taking sovereignty out of Israeli or Palestinian hands.
He said the Israelis, however, were willing to consider some sort of foreign "custodianship" of at least certain holy sites.