Baghdad Youth Celebrate World Youth Day

Unite Themselves Spiritually With Cologne

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, AUG. 21, 2005 ( More than 1,000 Catholic youths of Baghdad gathered in the city’s cathedral to celebrate World Youth Day, in spiritual union with Benedict XVI and their counterparts gathered in Cologne.

Through the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the youths, belonging to various rites, and some of the Orthodox Church, sent a message Friday which the Pope received «with joy and profound emotion,» reported the Vatican press office.

The youths’ message said: «We also, young Christians of Baghdad, after due preparation, and in a spirit of fraternal union with Your Holiness and with the thousands of youths in Cologne, have wanted to celebrate in prayer, reflection and festive joy, the current World Youth Day.

«We also have gathered to encounter the Lord and to ask what he desires from us in this very difficult moment for our country and for us. We are sustained by Jesus’ exhortation: ‘Courage, do not be afraid,’ which Your Holiness again presented at the beginning of your pontificate.»

«While we wish to send our affectionate greeting to the young people of Cologne, we request from Your Holiness the apostolic blessing, and we accompany spiritually the celebrations in that city,» the youths wrote.

Young people also celebrated World Youth Day in other cities of Iraq. In Mosul, for example, 400 gathered to celebrate the event.

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