Pope hopes Olympics promote peace, reconciliation

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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI says he hopes the Olympics will help promote peace and reconciliation in the world.

Benedict said the games, which kick off July 27 in London, carry a "strong symbolic value" in bringing athletes from around the world together.

Speaking Sunday during his traditional blessing, Benedict said he hopes the U.N.'s call for a truce in all countries during the Olympics will promote peace and reconciliation around the world during the sporting event.

The Vatican has recently launched a new sporting office as a sign of its interest in infusing the sporting world with Christian values.

Benedict spoke from the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.