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CURRENT ISSUE:  August 4, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Vatican approves new translation for parts of Mass
Health care union pickets labor-friendly St. Joseph Sisters
Pope, al-Maliki discuss Iraq peace
Pope Benedict XVI receives a gift from Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during their July 25 meeting in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit Iraq as a way to help support peacemaking efforts in the conflict-torn nation.

After taking part in a 20-minute, closed-door meeting with the pope at the papal summer residence south of Rome July 25, al-Maliki told reporters the pope’s “visit would represent support for the efforts of love and peace in Iraq.”

In talks with al-Maliki, the pope and Vatican officials renewed their “condemnation of violence, which continues to strike different parts of the country almost every day without sparing the Christian communities who strongly feel the need to have greater security,” the Vatican said in a written statement.

The talks focused on Iraq and the surrounding region, especially the plight of “numerous Iraqi refugees, inside and outside the country, who are in need of assistance,” including help to eventually return to their homeland, the statement said.

Al-Maliki said he urged the pope to encourage “Christians who left the country to go back and be part of the social structure of Iraq again.”

The talks included expressions of hope that “Iraq may definitely find the path of peace and development through dialogue and the collaboration of all ethnic and religious groups, including minorities,” the Vatican statement said.

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