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Cardinal’s Hostage Mission Fails

Associated Press

Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York wound up a three-day visit to Lebanon on Tuesday, saying he had failed to deliver messages to American hostages from their families.

“I made many queries about the hostages, but I was unable to perform my mission of delivering the messages I carried for them from their families in the U.S.,” O’Connor told a news conference.

He spoke at the Maronite Catholic Cathedral of Bikirki before taking off for Rome to brief Vatican officials. The Roman Catholic prelate said he will not go to Damascus, Syria, as he had planned.

“I was not invited to visit Damascus, and I only go where I am invited. I am willing to go anywhere in the world for peace,” he said.

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O’Connor arrived in Lebanon on Saturday and met with various religious and political leaders in Christian East Beirut. He also crossed the so-called Green Line into Muslim West Beirut for a two-hour meeting with Sheik Hassan Khaled, spiritual leader of the militarily weak but economically powerful Sunni Muslim community.

Fundamentalist Shia Muslim groups are believed to be holding the missing Americans: Terry A. Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of the Associated Press; William Buckley, political officer at the U.S. Embassy; Father Lawrence M. Jenco, Beirut chief of Catholic Relief Services; David P. Jacobsen, director of American University Hospital, and Thomas Sutherland, dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut. Kidnapers claim to have killed Buckley, but his body has never been found.


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