John Paul II Prays for Iraq and Condemns Terrorism

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II expressed his closeness to the Iraqi people and condemned the “blind barbarism of terrorism.”

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“I pray every day for the beloved Iraqi people, trying to reconstruct the institutions of their country,” the Pope said at the end of today’s general audience, which gathered 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square on a rainy morning.

“At the same time, I invite Christians to continue offering with generosity their essential contribution for the reconciliation of hearts,” the Holy Father added.

Christians have become, especially since Aug. 1, the target of fundamentalist terrorist groups in Iraq. On Oct. 16, five bombs exploded in five Christian churches in Baghdad.

The Pope expressed his “participation in the grief of the victims’ families and in the sufferings of the hostages and of all the innocent who are prey to the blind barbarism of terrorism.”

Estimates say that hundreds of Iraqis and some 20 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq. At least 37 foreign hostages have been killed over the last months.

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