Pontiff Hoping for Peace for Iraq

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI urged reconciliation in Iraq, in the wake of one of the country’s bloodiest weeks.

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The Pope addressed himself to Iraqis “who last Wednesday saw hundreds of fellow citizens die, victims of the uncontrollable panic, mostly elderly people, women and children, gathered in Baghdad for a religious commemoration.”

“May the Almighty touch the hearts of all, so that at last a climate of reconciliation and reciprocal trust will be established in that tormented country,” the Holy Father said today, after reciting the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence.

On hearing the news of a stampede that killed more than 900 Shiite pilgrims, the Pope sent a telegram to Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the papal nuncio in Baghdad, expressing hope “that all believers in the one God will unite to deplore all forms of violence and cooperate in the return of concord in the tormented Iraqi land.”

The tragedy that occurred on a bridge over the Tigris River was the deadliest event in the country’s recent history.

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