Pope Benedict XVI says that a "savage" and "senseless" attack on the Christian community of Iraq should increase the peace efforts of the churches.
“Faced with the brutal violence that continues to tear the peoples of the Middle East apart”, the Pope declared: “I renew my appeal for peace: it is God's gift, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, national and international institutions. We must all join forces to ensure an end to all violence!”
The pontiff made the appeal at the end of the Angelus prayer for the Feast of All Saints.
Speaking in Italian, he told the people gathered in St Peter's Square, Rome: “Last night, in a very serious attack on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, dozens of people were killed and wounded, including two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday Mass”.
The Pope continued “I pray for the victims of this senseless violence, all the more ferocious as it affected defenceless civilians."
He encouraged all pastors and Christians believers in Iraq "to be strong and firm in hope”, and expressed his solidarity with them.
This latest attack comes less than a week from the closing of the special assembly of the Synod of bishops for the Churches in the Middle East, specifically called by Pope Benedict XVI to encourage the communities of the region.