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Appeal for respect of Christian's rights in Iraq

· Letter from Cardinal Bertone to Prime Minister al-Maliki ·

Pope Benedict XVI, during the Spiritual Exercises being held for him and his collaborators of the Roman Curia, was deeply grieved by the news that Christians continue to be killed in the region of Mossul. In prayer and affection, the Holy Father remains close to those who suffer the consequences of violence. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, had at the beginning of January already called to the attention of His Excellency Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, the violence suffered by minors and particularly by Christians. The following is a translation of the text of Cardinal Bertone's letter, which was written in Italian dated 2 January.

Your Excellency,

I recall with pleasure your important visit to the Vatican in 2008, when His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI welcomed you and, following that encounter, the common hope was expressed that, through dialogue and cooperation among your country's ethnic and religious groups, including its minorities, the Republic of Iraq would be able to effect a moral and civil reconstruction, fully respecting the proper identity of those groups in a spirit of reconciliation and in the search for the common good.

You will also recall how His Holiness urged respect in Iraq for the right to freedom of worship, and called for the protection of Christians and their churches. On that occasion I too raised this matter with you, and you assured me that your Government took very seriously the situation of the Christian minority which has lived for so many centuries alongside the Muslim majority, contributing a great deal to the economic, cultural and social welfare of the nation.

The Holy Father has asked me to write to you now to convey his sincere solidarity with Your Excellency and with those killed or injured in the recent series of attacks on Government buildings and places of worship in Iraq, both Islamic and Christian. He prays earnestly for an end to the violence, and he asks the Government to do everything in its power to increase security around places of worship throughout the country, especially in the light of the feast of Christmas.

Allow me finally to express my appreciation for the many initiatives undertaken for the benefit of the whole Iraqi community.

I avail myself of the occasion to renew to Your Excellency the assurance of my highest consideration.




St. Peter’s Square

Oct. 16, 2019