Pope Benedict XVI issued special greetings Wednesday to a group of Israelis and Palestinians attending a seminar on peace.
"I greet in particular those Israelis and Palestinians who have come to Rome to participate in the Education to Peace seminar," the pope said, speaking in English, at his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square. "Upon all of you, I invoke God's abundant blessings of peace and joy."
The audience marked Benedict's return to the Vatican after a two-month vacation, first in the Italian Alps near France and then in the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills south of Rome. He kept up his regular public appearances during the vacation.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building