Pope Benedict sends message of solidarity to Iraqi Catholics following abduction of priest
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.- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State of the Holy See, issued a letter to the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq following the abduction of an Iraqi priest.  Writing on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI the cardinal told Archbishop Emmanuel III Delly, Archbishop of Baghdad and Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, that Holy Father assured all Iraqis of “his spiritual closeness and prayerful solidarity.”

The message included an appeal for the release of Father Saad Syrop Hanna, who was arrested after celebrating Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.  The message said that the Pope wishes for the release, “so that he can return to the service of God, the Christian community, and his countrymen.”

The Holy Father is also mindful of all victims of abduction in Iraq, the message said, and “prays that this dreadful scourge as well as the terrible daily bloodshed which delays the dawn of reconciliation and rebuilding will finally come to an end.”

In conclusion the message said, “His Holiness encourages the members of the Catholic community to continue to work together with all religious believers and people of good will towards a future of harmonious and respectful coexistence for the beloved nation of Iraq.”

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