Page 5, 12th September 2003

12th September 2003
Page 5
Page 5, 12th September 2003 — Middle East

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Organisations: Catholic Church
Locations: Rome


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Middle East

Pope prays for Iraqi dead

Tiic Poet, has offered prayers for the victims of a terrorist attack on the Najaf mosque in Iraq in which a Muslim leader and 80 other people died.

Thousands of people last week attended the funeral of Ayatollah Mohammed Bagir al-Hakim a leader of the Shiite majority in Iraq who had worked closely with the occupation forces.

In a telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, John Paul II expressed his sympathy and promised his prayers for the victims.

He said he entrusted the victims to the "love and mercy of God" and condemned "all forms of violence and the shedding of blood" and renews his call "to the followers of the religions of the world and persons of good will to reject every kind of aggression".

He called for people to work together for a new era of peace and justice in which "offences against human life and dignity will have no place".

Combat terror, urges Pontiff

THE POPE has declared that all religions must speak out against terrorism.

In a statement given to the Egyptian bishops, currently in Rome for their ad limina visit, John Paul II said all religions must speak with a single voice and work together "in the service of justice, peace. and fraternity between people".

He said Catholic dialogue with Islam was especially important in Egypt, where Catholics are in the minority. Such dialogue can serve as a model for interreligious cooperation in the world, the Pope said.

The Vatican has advanced official dialogue with Islamic scholars in Egypt, while working to protect the legal rights of the Church and its some 237,000 members.

The Pope said the Catholic Church in Egypt "seeks no particular advantage for itself', but only wants its members to be able to live their faith in the heart of society. He said the Church's missionary role could he measured by its role of service.

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