Pope Condemns Bombing of U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad

Prays for an End to the Spiraling Violence in Iraq

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II condemned Tuesday’s attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and assured his prayers for the triumph of reconciliation in Iraq.

At the end of today’s general audience, the Pope said that the bombing in Iraq, as well the deadly attack on a bus in Jerusalem the previous day, «can only cause in our heart profound sadness and unanimous reprobation.»

«While we entrust to divine mercy the persons who lost their lives and implore consolation for those who mourn, we pray to the God of peace that wisdom will prevail in hearts and that those responsible for public affairs will be able to break this fatal spiral of hatred and violence,» he added from the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

At least 24 people, including U.N. chief envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, died in the attack. On hearing of the bombing, the Pope sent a telegram directed personally to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In the telegram, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Holy Father said that he «sends his condolences to you, to all who work for the organization, and to the families and friends of those who died.»

He «offers fervent prayers for the victims and asks Almighty God to comfort those who mourn at this time of tragic loss.»

«Imploring all involved in perpetrating acts of violence to abandon the ways of hatred, His Holiness prays that the path of reconciliation will prevail and that the people of Iraq will know a new era of peace, justice and social harmony,» the telegram concludes.

The telegram was handed to Kofi Annan by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See before the United Nations.

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