By Francis X. Rocca
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) — Greeting reporters accompanying him to Korea Aug. 13, Pope Francis mourned an Italian video journalist killed earlier the same day in the Gaza Strip and urged journalists to serve as messengers of peace.
The pope listened with a bowed head and grave expression as Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, recounted the fate of Simone Camilli, who worked for The Associated Press.
Camilli and a freelance Palestinian translator, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, were killed along with three Palestinian policemen who were attempting to defuse unexploded ordnance left over from Israeli-Hamas fighting. Four other people, including an AP photographer, were badly injured.
Pope Francis then led the journalists in 30 seconds of silent prayer for Camilli.
“These are the consequences of war, that’s the way it is,” he said afterward.
“May your words always help unite us with the world,” the pope told about 70 journalists who accompanied him on the flight to South Korea. “I implore you, always send this message of peace, try to give a word of peace.”
The pope promised journalists that he would hold a news conference during his Aug. 18 flight back to Rome, continuing his practice established on previous international trips.
“David will go into the lion’s den,” he said with a smile. “They don’t bite, right?”
During his Aug. 14-18 visit to South Korea, the pope will celebrated a Mass for reconciliation between North and South Korea, beatify 124 Korean martyrs and participate in events related to Asian Youth Day.
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