.- Pope John Paul II offered prayers for the victims of yesterday’s church bombings in Iraq and called for an end to the bloodshed.
The Pope’s official message to Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of the Chaldeans of Babylon and president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Iraq, was released this morning by the Holy See Press Office.
In his letter, the Pope asked the patriarch to express to the pastors and faithful of the various rites of the oriental Church his solidarity in this time of suffering. He said he ardently deplores the unjust attacks against those who are working toward peace and reconciliation in their country.
“The painful news of the tragic attacks that occurred yestereday in Baghdad and Mossul against various Catholic communities, who were gathered in prayer in their respective places of celebration, deeply struck me,” the Pope wrote to the patriarch.
“In this time of trial, I am spiritually close to the Church and the people of Iraq and I renew the expression of my solidarity to the pastors and the faithful, assuring them of my prayers and of my constant pledge, so that a climate of peace and reconciliation may be restored in this beloved nation,” he continued.
“At the same time, I hope that all the believers in the one kind and merciful God will unite in deploring any form of violence and cooperate to restore harmony in the troubled Iraqi land,” he said.
The attacks against various Catholic communities in Iraq were “made much more devastating because they were directed against the faithful who were gathered in prayer on the Sabbath,” said Fr. Ciro Benedettini, vice-director of the Holy See Press Office.