John Paul II Prays for All the Kidnapped in Iraq

In Particular for 2 Italian Women Volunteers

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II prayed for the liberation of all those kidnapped in Iraq, particularly for two female Italian aid workers, in a petition over which he presided during the general audience.

Today’s audience ended with a Prayer of the Faithful, in which one of the Pope’s aides prayed for “the many persons kidnapped in the tormented land of Iraq and, in particular, for the two young Italian women volunteers, kidnapped yesterday in Baghdad.”

The aide prayed that they “all be treated with respect and restored soon and unharmed to the affection of their dear ones.”

Addressing a crowd of 8,000 in Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father concluded the prayer imploring God that humanity understand that “violence against others is a blind alley with no exit or future.”

Simona Pari and Simona Torreta, both 29 and volunteers of an aid group called A Bridge to Baghdad, were seized Tuesday along with Iraqis Mahnaz Bassam and Razad Ali Abdul, an engineer and a collaborator of the humanitarian organization Intersos, by armed men.

The kidnapping of Iraqi citizens has become a source of funding for armed criminal groups in the country.

On Sept. 1, the Pope appealed for the release of the French reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot sent to Iraq by Radio France and the newspaper Le Figaro.

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