LES COMBES, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI said Friday that he does not plan to intervene diplomatically in the Middle East fighting, but called on people of all religions to join Sunday's worldwide day of prayers for peace.
"I think it is best to leave that to the diplomats, because we don't enter politics. But we do everything for peace. Our goal is simply peace, and we will do everything to help attain peace," Benedict told reporters as he returned from an hour-long hike in the Italian Alps.
The pope has set aside Sunday as a worldwide day of prayers for peace, hoping the prayers will bring a halt to the fighting.
Benedict invited everyone to pray "especially Muslims and Jews."
Benedict said he had heard from Catholic communities in Lebanon and Israel.
"Especially from Lebanon, who implored us, as they have implored the Italian government, to help," he said. "We will help with our prayers and with the people we have in ... in Lebanon."
Wearing brown hiking boots under a plain white cassock, the pope spent an hour hiking in the Big Paradise National Park, returning to his mountain retreat just as rain started to fall. He said the gorgeous mountain vistas further impressed on him the gravity of the crisis.
"Seeing this peace that God gives me, I am even more struck by the suffering of many others," he said.
He confirmed that he was writing a book during his July 11-28 holiday, but declined to discuss it "because you have to be careful, it could be that you never finish it."
Italian media have reported that it is a book about Jesus.