02/25/2010, 00.00
IRAQ - VATICAN

During Lenten retreat, Pope prays for Iraqi Christians and peace in the country

Benedict XVI is closely following the situation in Iraq and the escalation of violence against the Christian community. He expresses "deep sorrow" and is near to all who suffer "through prayer and affection." A letter from the Secretary of State Card. Bertone to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki made public.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Even during his Lenten retreat, the pope is closely following the violence against Christians in Mosul and praying for peace in Iraq. In the current issue of  Osservatore Romano an article reports that Benedict XVI has learned with profound sorrow "of the escalation of attacks in the city of Mosul and the continued targeted killings of the faithful. The Pope - continues the note - is "close to those who suffer" the consequences of violence "with prayer and affection."    

On the massacre of Iraqi Christians, on January 2 last – but only made public today – Vatican secretary of State Card. Tarcisio Bertone wrote a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, stressing the urgency for dialogue and cooperation between ethnic and religious groups".  Recalling a meeting at the Vatican in 2008 between Benedict XVI and al-Maliki, the cardinal's call recalled the shared appeal for the "moral and civil reconstruction" of the country, while respecting the identity and spirit of reconciliation.  

In his letter, card. Bertone reiterated the Pope's exhortation for "respect in Iraq for the right to freedom of worship and the protection of Christians and their churches”. The Secretary of State - on the advice of Benedict XVI - finally expressed "sincere solidarity to the Iraqi prime minister and" to those who were killed wounded" in the attacks "on government buildings and places of worship in Iraq, both Muslim and Christian. "

 

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