Pope Greets Baghdad Cathedral Attack Victims

Expresses His Closeness to Persecuted Christians

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met privately today with a group of Iraqis who were wounded in the Oct. 31 massacre in Baghdad’s Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, told ZENIT that the Pope received a group of about 50 people after the weekly general audience, which was held in Paul VI Hall.

Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic accepted about 26 injured survivors of the attack, including 16 women, three children and seven men. They were transferred by plane from Baghdad together with 21 relatives.

The attack left 58 dead and more than 100 wounded. France also welcomed over 70 of the injured Iraqis for hospital care.

Father Lombardi reported that Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute of the Secretariat of State, accompanied the group: “He had already visited the injured at Gemelli a few days ago, after their arrival, and feels especially close to the country and the Iraqi Christians, as he was the nuncio in Iraq during the most dramatic moments of the conflict.”

“The Pope greeted them all one by one and spoke a few impromptu words of closeness, comfort and prayer,” the spokesman added. “They showed him photographs of some bombing victims.”

Father Lombardi explained that the meeting was a “further way of manifesting the great closeness and concern of the Pope and the universal Church over the fate of Christians, not only in Iraq, but also in other areas of the Middle East and the world, in which they are victims of violence and injustice.”

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