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Allawi meets Pope

Pope John Paul met Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi yesterday and told him he hopes a democratic and multi-ethnic Iraq will emerge from "the tragic sufferings of recent years."

Reuters reports that the Pope, who was an outspoken critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq, said he prayed for "all the victims of terrorism and wanton violence" as well as those who "generously work" for the reconstruction of Iraq.

"I wish to encourage efforts made by the Iraqi people to establish institutions which will be truly representative and committed to defending the rights of all," the Pope said in a speech, which was read for him by an aide.

He added that the reconstruction process should show "complete respect for the ethnic and religious diversity which has always been a source of enrichment for your country."

"I pray for all the victims of terrorism and wanton violence, for their families, and for all those who generously work for the reconstruction of your country," he said. "I am confident that the Christian community, present in Iraq from apostolic times, will make its own contribution to the growth of democracy and the building of a future of peace in the region."

The Holy Father met Allawi for about 10 minutes in his private library in the Vatican's apostolic palace.

MISNA says that at the conclusion of the audience, the delegation headed by Premier Allawi and made up also by the Minister of Social Affairs Bikhtiar Amin, the Minister of Human Rights and the State Minister Wael Al Fadel, met with the Vatican State Secretary, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and other representative of the Vatican diplomacy.

A statement issued by the director of the Vatican Press, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, refers that the talks addressed prospectives of pacification and reconciliation in Iraq; also addressing the "necessity to ensure full religious freedom", highlighting "the contribution that the Christian community can offer in the moral and material reconstruction of the nation". Joaquín Navarro-Valls added that Premier Allawi "deplored the attacks against the Christian churches, assuring the government's commitment in proceeding in their restoring".

Pope Meets Allawi, Calls for Multi-Ethnic Iraq (Reuters 4/11/04)
Pope receives Iraqi Prime Minister in audience (Missionary Service News Agency 4/11/04)

Allawi appeals to 'spectators' (Reuters/CNN 4/11/04)
Pope is close to those who are working for the good of the country, Catholic Patriarch says ( 4/11/04)
The Pope to Allawi: build democracy ( 4/11/04)
A papal audience and encouragement for Allawi at the Vatican tomorrow ( 4/11/04)
All people called to become God's children, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 3/11/04)
Christ Is Key to Decipher History, Says John Paul II (Zenit 3/11/04)
Pope Mourns Death of Belgian Cardinal Joos (Zenit 3/11/04)
Pope wants Catholics to understand 'real presence' of Christ (Catholic News Service 3/11/04)
Pope meets Allawi, backs Iraqi democracy (Catholic World News 4/11/04)

5 Nov 2004