Pope Prays for Peace in Iraq and Mideast

Visits Congregation for Eastern Churches

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI prayed for peace in the Holy Land, Iraq and Lebanon the same day he received a visit from U.S. President George Bush.

The Pope voiced his prayer at a Saturday visit to the headquarters of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, located adjacent to the Vatican.

“The sons and daughters of the Church should be able to live in personal and social peace everywhere,” the Holy Father said. “The dignity, respect and the future of individuals and groups should be guaranteed, free from prejudices due to their rights as believers and citizens.”

The Vatican congregation is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its institution by Pope Benedict XV.

Benedict XVI added: “From my lips comes an urgent plea for peace in the Holy Land, Iraq and Lebanon, all of which are under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. I also pray for the remaining regions involved in a seemingly unstoppable whirlwind of violence.

“It is my prayer that the Churches and disciples of the Lord may remain where providence has placed them, and where they deserve to be, since their presence goes back to the beginnings of Christianity.

“Through the centuries they have been known by an unbreakable love for their own faith, their people and their land.”

“As father and shepherd,” the Pope affirmed, “I feel it is my duty to raise to God a fervent prayer and to issue an urgent call to all responsible parties, so that from East to West, Churches can profess their Christian faith in complete freedom.”

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