Pope Encourages Leadership of Iraqi Government

Says Sufferings Can Unite Christians and Muslims

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging the swift formation of a democratic Iraqi government as elected by the people, and its leadership in giving an example of interreligious tolerance.

The Pope stated this today when he received in audience the new Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, Habbeb Mohammed Hadi Ali Al-Sadr.

In the March 7 elections, he affirmed, «the people of Iraq gave a clear sign to the world that they wish to see an end to violence and that they have chosen the path of democracy, through which they aspire to live in harmony with one another within a just, pluralist and inclusive society.»

«It is to be hoped that the formation of a new government will now proceed swiftly so that the will of the people for a more stable and unified Iraq may be accomplished,» the Pontiff stated.

He continued: «Those who have been elected to political office will need to show great courage and determination themselves, in order to fulfill the high expectations that have been placed in them.

«You may be assured that the Holy See, which has always valued its excellent diplomatic relations with your country, will continue to provide whatever assistance it can, so that Iraq may assume its rightful place as a leading nation in the region with much to contribute to the international community.»

The Holy Father expressed the «earnest hope» that Iraq «will emerge from the difficult experiences of the past decade as a model of tolerance and cooperation among Muslims, Christians and others in the service of those most in need.»

He emphasized the need for the new government «to give priority to measures designed to improve security for all sectors of the population, particularly the various minorities.»

«The Holy See naturally shares the concern you have expressed that Iraqi Christians should remain in their ancestral homeland, and that those who have felt constrained to emigrate will soon consider it safe to return,» Benedict XVI told the ambassador.

Children of Abraham

He added, «It is greatly to be hoped that Iraqi society in the future will be marked by peaceful coexistence, as is in keeping with the aspirations of those who are rooted in the faith of Abraham.»

The Pope acknowledged that «recent years have seen many tragic acts of violence committed against innocent members of the population, both Muslim and Christian, acts which as you have pointed out are contrary to the teachings of Islam as well as those of Christianity.»

He added, «This shared suffering can provide a deep bond, strengthening the determination of Muslims and Christians alike to work for peace and reconciliation.»

«Long after the present troubles have receded into the past,» the Pontiff said, «the names of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, Father Ragheed Ganni and many more will live on as shining examples of the love that led them to lay down their lives for others.»

He continued, «May their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many others like them, strengthen within the Iraqi people the moral determination that is necessary if political structures for greater justice and stability are to achieve their intended effect.»

The Holy Father acknowledged the ambassador’s address in which he spoke about the Iraqi government’s commitment to respect human rights.

He said, «Among the rights that must be fully respected if the common good is to be effectively promoted, the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of worship are paramount, since it is they that enable citizens to live in conformity with their transcendent dignity as persons made in the image of their divine Creator.»

Benedict XVI affirmed, «I therefore hope and pray that these rights will not only be enshrined in legislation, but will come to permeate the very fabric of society — all Iraqis have a part to play in building a just, moral and peaceable environment.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29774?l=english

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