Pope prays every day for peace in Middle East, Christians in Iraq

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said he prays every day for peace in the Middle East and especially for Christians in Iraq.

“I pray constantly for peace in the Middle East, in particular for Christians who live in the beloved Iraqi nation; I present their sufferings to the Lord in the Eucharistic sacrifice every day,” the pope said in an audience with the new head of the Syrian Catholic Church.

Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan and members of the synod of the Syrian Catholic Church met with Pope Benedict in a special audience June 19 at the Vatican.

Patriarch Younan was the head of the Newark-based Syrian-rite diocese in the United States and Canada from 1995 until his January election as the new patriarch of Antioch.

The Syrian Catholic Church has archdioceses in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Sudan. The church includes approximately 200,000 members around the world, including in the Holy Land, Turkey, Venezuela, the United States and Canada.

In his address, Pope Benedict urged members of the Syrian Catholic Church to continue to focus their lives on the Eucharist. It is the bread of life that “nourishes your communities and makes them grow in unity and charity,” he said.

He said they should draw strength from the Eucharist so they can “overcome the difficulties that your church has experienced in recent years, and follow the paths of forgiveness, reconciliation and communion.”