John Paul II Meets With Patriarch of Baghdad

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2005 ( The first audience of John Paul II after his Spiritual Exercises was with the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad.

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Although the Holy See did not make public the issues that were discussed between Patriarch Emmanuel II Delly and the Holy Father on Saturday, sources contacted by ZENIT said that one of the topics was the future of Catholics in the wake of the Iraqi elections won by the United Iraqi Alliance.

The meeting took place during a demonstration in Rome calling for the liberation of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena who was kidnapped earlier this month.

The Holy Father appealed for her release on Feb. 13. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, confirmed on Friday the mobilization of the Church in Iraq for her liberation.

Responding to journalists outside a reception at the Italian Embassy in the Vatican, Archbishop Lajolo explained that the “Chaldean Patriarch assured me that both he and the apostolic nuncio have knocked on every possible door to establish a contact. Up to now, unfortunately, in vain,” he lamented.

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