Pontiff Calls for Peace in India, Iraq, Congo

Urges Prayer for «Alarming» Situations

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is pleading for an end to violence in India, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Pope made his appeal today before some 40,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a Mass in which four new saints were canonized: Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Butler, Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception and Narcisa de Jesús Martillo Morán.

St. Alphonsa is the first female saint of India.

«I invite you,» the Holy Father said after the conclusion of the Mass and before praying the Angelus, «to pray for reconciliation and peace in some situations that cause alarm and great suffering: I am thinking of the populations of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I am thinking of the violence against Christians in Iraq and India, whom I daily commend to the Lord.»

In North Kivu, there has been a renewal of fighting since Aug. 28, when government forces and rebel troops broke a ceasefire that had been set in January. Congolese President Joseph Kabila called Thursday for a renewal in the offensive against the rebel forces.

In Iraq, above all in Mosul, an upsurge in fundamentalist and terrorist persecution of Christians has been observed, with some 20 victims in the past 10 days.

In India, a wave of anti-Christian violence, which began in August above all in the state of Orissa, has led to the slaying of about 80 persons.

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