The Earth Times website reports that Pope Benedict XVI -- speaking in Cyprus today (June 6, 2010) -- appealed to the world community to intervene in the Middle East in order to prevent "greater bloodshed."
His appeal for an "urgent and international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East" coincided with the release of a Vatican's Instrumentum Laboris -- or document -- on the region that focuses on the problems facing Christians in the region.
Benedict was concluding a three-day visit to the Mediterranean island -- his first to an Orthodox country -- with a mass in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, today.
Economic emigration and declining birth rates in recent years have contributed to the decline of Christianity in the predominantly Muslim Middle East. Sixty years ago, Christians made up 20 percent of the total population of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Today, they represent less than two percent.