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Bishop Burbidge Requests Prayers for Iraq Bombing Victims

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Christian leaders throughout the world are joining Pope Benedict XVI’s call to international and national authorities to work together to end the “heinous episodes of violence that continue to ravage the people of the Middle East.” The Holy Father’s request followed the attack October 31 at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that took the lives of 37 Christians, including two priests, during a siege that ended when the cathedral was stormed by US and Iraqi forces. A total of 58 people were killed and 75 injured in the assault.

“I pray for the victims of this absurd violence,” Pope Benedict said, “which is even more savage because it struck defenseless people, gathered in God’s house, which is a house of love and reconciliation.”

Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered the prayers of the US bishops and expressed solidarity with those suffering as a result of the cathedral killings. Cardinal George’s statement called on the United States government to take necessary steps to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable.

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge asked the faithful of the Diocese of Raleigh to "pray for those who were killed or injured in the attack, as well as for the Syriac Catholic community and all people of faith in Iraq, that together they may be renewed and confirmed in their commitment to peace.” Bishop Burbidge said, “Our faith draws on the gift of courage, and so as we continue to pray for peace in the Middle East, we not only express our solidarity with the sufferings of our fellow Christians, but we are also reminded of the strength from God that we need to courageously live our Catholic faith each day.”