Holy Father Speaks Up For Iraqi Christians

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AMMAN, Jordan, MAY 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Before concluding a visit to Jordan’s state mosque today, Benedict XVI spoke up in defense of Christians in neighboring Iraq.

The Pope went to the King Hussein bin Talal Mosque today, on his first full day of a weeklong pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He subsequently addressed Muslim religious leaders and other religious and civil dignitaries.

At the end of his discourse, the Holy Father offered a special greeting to His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Baghdad.

«His presence brings to mind the people of neighboring Iraq, many of whom have found welcome refuge here in Jordan,» the Pontiff said. «The international community’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, together with those of the local leaders, must continue in order to bear fruit in the lives of Iraqis.»

Benedict XVI expressed gratitude for those who are helping to «deepen trust» and rebuild the war-torn nation.

«And once again,» he continued, «I urge diplomats and the international community they represent together with local political and religious leaders to do everything possible to ensure the ancient Christian community of that noble land its fundamental right to peaceful coexistence with their fellow citizens.»

It is estimated that some 20,000 Iraqi Christians are finding refuge in Jordan.

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