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Vatican calls on UN to act for peace after attacks

Papal envoy Cardinal Roger Etchegaray has called on the United Nations to intensify peace efforts in Iraq and the Middle East following Sunday's attacks on Iraq's Christian churches that killed 11 people and wounded more than 50.

"The Pope thinks that the international community now has a responsibility to intervene not only in Iraq but in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land," the French prelate told Rome's La Repubblica newspaper.

"I hope that the news of this catastrophe pushes the international community to react forcefully but also with a great spirit of solidarity. This is a question that concerns everyone, not only Christians, because a fundamental right, to religious freedom, is at stake."

The Pope expressed his "pain, sadness and disquiet", after being informed by the papal nuncio in Baghdad, Fernando Filoni, of the attacks on the Iraqi churches which took place on Sunday afternoon, Vatican sources said.

A Vatican spokesman, Fr Ciro Benedettini, added: "What happened is especially painful and worrying because it is the first time that Christian churches are targeted in Iraq. The Catholic church in Iraq always has been in the front line in its commitment to peace and solidarity toward all."

Meanwhile The Age reports this morning that Iraqi Christians have been fleeing across Iraq's borders and applying for Australian visas fearing a rise in Islamic sentiment threatens their safety. The fears have been present for some time, but were exacerbated by Sunday's explosions.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone confirmed there had been a "moderate increase" in applications by Iraqi Christians in the past month.

A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department said the Government deplored the continuing terrorist attacks in Iraq, including the explosions outside churches, and supported efforts by the Iraqi Government and coalition partners to restore security.

Pictured from The Age today: Tirana Hormiz Oshana has left Iraq for Syria and, maybe, Australia.

Vatican calls on UN to act for peace after attacks (Belfast Telegraph 3/8/04)
Iraqi Christians flee, eyeing Australia (The Age 4/8/04)

Christians, too, condemn the killing of two Pakistani hostages in Iraq ( 3/8/04)
Islamic-Catholic group denounces Iraqi bombings (Catholic World News 3/8/04)
Iraqi Caritas and St. Egidio on bomb attacks against churches (Missionary Service News Agency 3/8/04)
Islamic - Catholic liaison committee condemns attacks against churches in Iraq (Missionary Service News Agency 3/8/04)
Pope calls on Muslims, Christians to unite after Iraqi church attacks (CathNews 3/8/04)
Bombers target Iraq's Christians (The Advertiser 3/8/04)
Wave of car blasts shatters sanctity of Iraqi churches (Associated Press/The Australian 3/8/04)
Deadly co-ordinated bombs isolate Iraqi Christians (Sydney Morning Herald 3/8/04)
Iraq: Christian churches targeted by bombers (ABC Radio AM 2/8/04)
Patriarch of Chaldean church calls for unity (Middle East Online 2/8/04)
Blasts on Iraqi Christian Churches Kill11 (The Guardian/Associated Press 2/8/04)
At least fourteen Christian Iraqis killed in wave of suicide attacks on churches (Belfast Telegraph 2/8/04)
Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs (BBC 2/8/04)
Iraqi Muslim Leaders Denounce Church Blasts (Islam Online 2/8/04)
Christians respond to church bombings in Iraq (Ekklesia 2/8/04)
Church bomb blasts: declaration of Chaldean Procurator to the Holy See (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Church bomb blasts: no to 'war of religion' (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Church bomb blasts: Statement of Bishop of Mossul (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Church bomb blasts: Pope expresses solidarity to Iraqi Catholics (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Church bomb blasts: Reactions from Baghdad and elsewhere (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Church bomb blasts: Religious sources, "St. Elia was evacuated shortly before the explosion" (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Bomb blasts in churches in Baghdad and Mossul: 2 or 15 confirmed victims? (Missionary Service News Agency 2/8/04)
Iraq bombings draw condemnation from Christian leaders (Ecumenical News International 2/8/04)
At least fourteen Christian Iraqis killed in wave of suicide attacks on churches (The Independent 2/8/04)
Chaldean Patriarch: "Debris and destruction everywhere, but we will not give in to discouragement" ( 2/8/04)
Bishop Rabban: "It is foreign terrorism directed at Christians and the new Iraq" ( 2/8/04)
Christians in Iraq, two thousand years of history ( 2/8/04)
The Pope: "Our solidarity goes to Iraqi Catholics" ( 2/8/04)
Bishop blames massive attack against Iraqi Christians to 'foreign fanatics' (Catholic News Agency 2/8/04)
Pope expresses grave concern, sadness after attacks on churches in Iraq (Catholic News Agency 2/8/04)
Iraq Christians attacked (Catholic World News 2/8/04)
Iraq: bombs blast three churches (Independent Catholic News 2/8/04)
Iraq church bombings: eyewitness reports (Independent Catholic News 2/8/04)
Bombs explode near give churches in Baghdad and Mosul (CathNews 2/8/04)

4 Aug 2004