Pope begins Holy Week with urgent call for peace in Iraq

 Pope Benedict XVI made a strong appeal for peace in Iraq at the end of yesterday's Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square, attended by many thousands of pilgrims. The Holy Father denounced the five-year-old Iraq war, which he said "has caused the complete breakup of Iraqi civil and social life"." He said: Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!" Pope Benedict said: "Enough with the slaughters, enough with the violence, enough with the hatred in Iraq!" And the crowd of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause. The body of Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found on Thursday near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Pope who has called the prelate's death "an inhuman act of violence praised his loyalty to the church. " He said the archbishop refused to abandon his flock, despite the many threats and difficulties. Pope Benedict will be presiding over a Vatican memorial service today to in honour of Archbishop Rahno. Pope Benedict called on the Iraqi people "to raise their heads and reconstruct their life through reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and coexistence among tribal, ethnic, and religious groups" The Palm Sunday service, which marks the beginning of Holy Week, was attended by thousands of young people. They carried palm leaves and olive branches, which the pope blessed at the start of the Mass. The Holy Father told the crowd that during Holy Week they would be recalling "the most sublime drama in history, the drama of our salvation." In his homily, the pope urged them to follow God with the innocence and purity of a child's heart. The Pope will be presiding over all the Holy Week services. On Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum will be led by Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen ze kuian. The Cardinal has asked for prayers that he may be able to witness to the sufferings of Christians and all religious people in China, in a manner which might make some impact on the consciences of those who are unaware of just how much anguish China is trying to conceal under the glitz of the Olympics. Source: VIS/AsiaNews

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